Technical assistance to support ACP country delegations in Geneva on the Post-July Framework Process (Focal Points 2)
Contract No – 7 ACP – RPR – 753- Project No. 13
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT ACP COUNTRY DELEGATIONS IN GENEVA ON THE POST JULY FRAMEWORK PROCESS (FOCAL POINT 2)
Expert: Vlahantoni-Tikof Marlena GENERAL PRESENTATION OF THE PROPOSED ASSISTANCE IN THE FIELD OF AGRICULTURE
Current Status of the WTO Negotiations – General overview
Agriculture is the key element of the Doha Development Agenda. Following the decision on July Framework, agriculture negotiations entered into an intensive technical phase, with the aim to prepare full modalities before the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Session, scheduled for December 2005. It is envisaged that a first draft modalities paper will be presented for further elaboration before July 2005. So far, technical elaboration has well advanced in some areas, but progress remains uneven in the different chapters under negotiation. Indeed, Market Access is one of those areas where more technical work is still required. In this regard, a critical element for the negotiating process to move forward in all related areas of the Market Access pillar i.e. tariff reduction formula, Special Products, Special Safeguard Mechanism, Tariff Preferences etc, is the issue of converting the non ad-valorem tariffs into ad-valorem ones. In order to reach the July benchmark successfully, and in the course of the Hong Kong Ministerial preparations the emphasis of the work is gradually moving from the technical to political level. In this regard, several mini Ministerials are foreseen. However, given that the Doha Development Agenda is a single undertaking it is important to underline that for a successful Hong Kong Ministerial meeting, balanced progress across all areas of negotiations has to be ensured. So far agriculture is the most advanced.
Cotton: is part of agriculture negotiations, as it is reaffirmed in the July Framework. It is
recognized as an issue of vital importance for developing countries, especially LDCs and therefore, the aim is to be addressed ambitiously, expeditiously and specifically within the agriculture negotiations. The relevant sub-committee has been established and already had its first meeting with the aim to encompass all trade-distorting policies affecting the sector in all three pillars of market access, domestic support and export competition.
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Key points for ACP negotiating strategy:
The group of ACP countries consists of over 77 countries, dispersed in the continent of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions. Almost half of them are considered developing countries and the other half are LDCs. Among them, 10 are Net Food Importing Developing Countries (NFIDCs), while a number of 15 African countries are landlocked. Agriculture and services are two sectors of significant importance for their economic and social viability. This complex profile suggests, among other things, that the outcome of agriculture negotiations will affect greatly their economies. Indeed, ACP countries have strong interests on all pillars of agriculture negotiations and one of their major concern is to ensure effective and operational Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) as an integral part on all elements of the negotiations. In Market Access pillar, the emphasis is given to the positive aspects of SDT, namely Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism. The aim is to ensure appropriate level of protection of their domestic markets. On the other hand they seek to increase opportunities for their export outlets, through effectively addressing preference erosion and substantial market opening from the part of developed countries. In Domestic support the emphasis is on two areas, namely, preservation of de minimis and of Article 6.2 of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) provisions, with the view to address their specific concerns related to substantial agriculture and rural development goals In export competition, major concerns focus on the SDT aspects, especially with regards to food aid, STEs, export credits and the exemptions of Article 9.4 of the AoA.
Cotton: the point is to ensure that the cotton issue will be addressed within Agriculture
negotiations effectively, expeditiously and specifically on all pillars of the negotiations, as it is stated in the July Framework text.
Concerning the methodological approach to cover ACP negotiator needs, the intending outcome, as described in the ToRs, is to “identify priorities and directions for negotiations in key agricultural areas in the ongoing WTO negotiations, including cotton”. To this end, we plan to hold workshops that will examine the issues under consideration to which we will invite the whole expert team and representatives of the WTO Secretariat, other UN agencies and WTO delegates in order to have an informal and thorough discussion of the issues. Subsequently we will organize focussed issue specific sessions involving just a few experts and the ACP focal points and delegates to discuss particular issues in detail and to support the dialogue necessary for development of negotiating positions. The final expected output of the work is to draft a proposal and a review paper on negotiating agriculture issues and to highlight those which will still require further analysis and support to improve the negotiation arguments and strategies. 2