WTO meet in October to decide fate of Hong Kong ministerial

New Delhi, Aug 1 | Updated: Aug 2 2005, 05:30am hrs
Trade ministers from World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries will meet in Geneva in October in a last ditch attempt to make the Hong Kong ministerial scheduled in December a success.

Following the unsuccessful WTO general council meeting in Geneva last week, where members failed to agree on the first approximation (outline) of the Hong Kong declaration, the hope of key issues being resolved before the Hong Kong meet has weakened.

Since the WTO office would be closed in August on account of summer recess, members have just three months to resolve their differences in sectors, including agriculture, non-agriculture market access (NAMA), services and special and differential treatment (S&DT).

Speaking to FE, commerce ministry officials said the October mini-ministerial meet would be a big affair and would be attended by almost all member countries. It has been well recognised that the Hong Kong ministerial would deliver something substantial only if differences in important areas are addressed before the meet. The October meeting would determine what one could expect in December, an official said.

In agriculture, while an agreement has been reached on the conversion of specific tariffs (tariffs linked to units like euros per tonne) into their ad-valorem equivalents (tariffs based on the value of the product), members have yet to reach a consensus on the formula to adopt for tariff and subsidy reduction.

In NAMA, too, an agreement on the formula for tariff reduction eludes members. The services negotiations, which is being carried out on a request-offer basis, has not been able to show much progress due to lack of serious offers from members.