None are Talking of the Costs of Failure

December 15, 2005, Hong Kong, Press Release

With much of the focus being put on the development package and food aid, deliberations at the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial have so far shied away from the core issues of agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and services where serious disagreements continue to exist amongst members.

There has so far been little movement towards a draft text that encourages progress on these core issues threatening the ministerial with total failure.

“The costs of such a failure are potentially very huge as this could derail the process of global agricultural trade reform,” says CUTS International, a leading research, advocacy and networking group working in Asia, Africa and Europe. “It will leave the issue of tariff peaks and escalations facing developing countries unresolved and increase mistrust amongst countries in the global economy.”

Developing countries are right to demand their due share in the global trade as developed countries have so far failed to table proposals that will deliver them a deal to correct the imbalances in the global rules based system that are the legacy of the Uruguay Round.

Most notably the failure of the EU to reform its agricultural sector more significantly and the demands by developed countries for near reciprocity from the larger developing economies such as Brazil and India in NAMA talks are quite unfair.

The current logjam in the Doha Round is being blamed on the EU’s failure to match the level of tariff reductions the G20 has offered on agriculture, which has led the other members to hold back from making concessions in the remaining areas of the talks.

Not only this, the EU is trying to shift focus away from the core agenda of trade liberalisation and playing the divisive tactics of breaking the unity of Southern countries.

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