WTO Doha Round & South Asia: Linking Civil Society with Trade Negotiations
South Asia Forum for International Trade (SAFIT-II)

WTO Doha Round & South Asia: Linking Civil Society with Trade Negotiations

July-August                WTO Doha Round & South Asia: Linking Civil Society with Trade Negotiations                   2/2006


Pro-farmer or pro-consumer: Govt would like to be both, but can it?
It is difficult to fathom whether the Government is pro-farmer or pro-consumer. Over the past week, the Union Commerce Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, batting for farmers in India, pulled out of the talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, saying that the developed world was refusing to make deep enough cuts in subsidy payments to their farmers.

A common stance in WTO for South Asia
South Asia, as a region, has seen high growth since 1995 (annual average of 5.3%), but it ranks low in terms of the trade-to-GDP ratio and the trade openness index. This is in spite of the fact that most South Asian countries have followed similar macro adjustment policies, such as accelerated pace of economic reforms and unilateral liberalisation since 1990.

Hang together to bargain better
When the Uruguay Round became a fait accompli and knowledge about the WTO was little, a common position for South Asian countries in the WTO looked ideal.

Divergence versus convergence
South Asia is one of the most heterogeneous blocks among the geographically contiguous regions. While the developing countries are gungho about deeper liberalisation, the LDCs are concerned with erosion of preferences, which they have enjoyed due to their state of development.

Transform sensitivities into regional strength
Agriculture has become a linchpin for ongoing WTO-mandated negotiations for so many reasons. Developing countries genuinely felt they were short-changed during the Uruguay Round, for market access promises didn’t go beyond lip service.

Dhaka to lead LDCs in WTO again
Bangladesh has again been selected to represent the 49 LDCs in the WTO for the next six months.

Lankan experts adopt strategies to safeguard agricultural sector
Sri Lankan experts are adopting strategies to provide maximum safeguards to the agricultural sector of the country at WTO negotiations though the negotiations are deadlocked. Research Economist of the Department of Export Agriculture Dr. Anura Herath has proposed a formula to cut tariffs by weighted average 15% as proposed by the WTO.

Pakistan wants progress on all issues: Doha Round
Pakistan has shown its reservation over partial resumption of negotiations on some issues saying talks should be resumed across the board on the DDA, it is learnt. Pakistan’s reaction came at a time, when some countries, including European Union (EU) has tabled a proposal to resume talks in certain undisputed areas of the Doha round to break the impasse in the multilateral trade negotiations.

WTO exemption gives boost to Bangladesh pharma industry
With major Asian producers India and China kept out of competition, Bangladesh, which enjoys the patent rights exemption under the present WTO regime, is racing ahead as a producer and exporter of pharmaceutical products.

Pakistan upgrading copyright laws
Pakistan has started upgrading its copyright laws with the help of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) following pressure from trading partners particularly the United States (US) to improve its negative copyright image.

Nepali pharmaceutical industries must utilize WTO concessions: Experts
Nepali experts asked pharmaceutical industries to utilize the concessions given by the WTO to the LDCs in order to be global exporters. The LDCs including Nepal should not grant the patent rights to such products till 2016 as per the WTO agreement under DDA.

Japan may accept Nepal’s aid proposal: report
The government of Japan is likely to accept Nepal’s proposal for promoting more than 22 exportable items to the Japanese market under the Aid for Trade scheme.

Nepal Can Learn From India and China: Country suffers from low economic growth while neighbours prosper
As India and China are achieving high economic growth, their neighbouring country Nepal is still struggling for peace and stability. However the political climate of Nepal has improved since the April movement. Now, it’s time for Nepal leaders to think how the nation can benefit from its giant neighbour economies — India and China.

Indian farmers saved from a bad deal
The farmers of India and the developing world are saved from a bad deal being struck at the WTO. All through the process of negotiations at the WTO till today show that the developed bloc were interested in keeping their markets protected while seeking greater market access in the Third World.

Bhutan and the World Trade Organisation
Bhutan is currently facing unprecedented political and economic challenges. On the economic front, Bhutan has expressed its interest in the multilateral trading system by having begun the accession process to join the WTO, since 1999.

Interest groups want tougher Delhi at WTO
India should harden its stand at WTO, taking advantage of the recent collapse in negotiations, feel many civil society organisations, farmers’ groups and trade unions.

Doha Round

Forget the Doha Work Programme for now
On June 22, draft modalities for negotiations have been announced by the chairs of the two negotiating groups on agriculture and NAMA (non-agricultural market access). Does this take us any closer to resolving the Doha Work Programme (DWP) impasse?

Only a magic wand can change the outcome
Given the current state of play, nature of discussions and persisting differences among WTO members on virtually each and every issue of the agreement on agriculture as expected the draft modalities paper does not have many surprises.

The death of ABI alliance
The draft report by Ambassador Don Stephenson, the chair of the NAMA committee in the WTO, has only served to further consolidate and build the developed countries’ interests.

Modalities reflect new global realities
The Doha Round and the modalities for negotiation on agriculture and NAMA comes at the cusp of the convergence of two sources of opposition to economic globalisation:

Several suspects in frame for Doha murder
So who killed the Doha round? Like the murder on the Orient Express, everyone had a hand in it. The EU should have offered deeper cuts in farm tariffs. The US should have signalled compromise on farm subsidies earlier, and should not have changed trade representative mid-stream.

A deal can still be salvaged from the Doha ashes
Now that the smoke and fire have cleared from the suspension of the Doha talks, we should ask what phoenix can be summoned from the ashes. The current stalemate is due more to politics than personalities. All parties are exporting domestic political constraints into the negotiations.

US threatens to withdraw tariff benefits to India
India, Russia and Brazil are among a group of 13 countries that could lose preferential trade benefits granted by the US under a review announced by its administration.

WTO talks may take months to resume
Even as the global trade talks collapsed in Geneva, India has blamed developed countries for not making substantial cuts in trade-distorting farm subsidies. The Doha development round of the WTO now looks set to be suspended for the next few months.

WTO aid for trade task force submits final report to members
The WTO Task Force on Aid for Trade tabled its final recommendations at a meeting of the General Council on 27-28 July, satisfying the July deadline set by the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.

Offer more to end WTO deadlock, Nath tells EU, US
Commerce & industry minister Kamal Nath has urged the EU and the US to come back to the negotiating table with something in their ’pockets’ to get the development round moving.

India rejects US plea on WTO peace clause
India has rejected the US attempt to invoke fresh life into the expired Peace Clause in agriculture trade, which prevented countries from challenging subsidies provided by developed countries on agricultural exports at the WTO.

India blames US for failure of WTO talks
India has blamed the US for the failure of WTO talks in Geneva, while seeking an end to “structural flaws” in the global trading system especially in agriculture.

WTO deadlock should not hamper India’s market access: FICCI
The Government should not allow the collapse of the Doha round of WTO talks to hamper India’s market access and instead launch an all-out strategy to ink bilateral and regional agreements with complementary economies such as EU, USA, Japan and Australia, industry body FICCI today said.

Eight Doha myths
The future of Doha Work Programme, meaning the timeframe, is now uncertain. We are probably looking at 2009/2010 for resurrection. The way I see it, there are several myths floating around.

Poor states may be biggest losers from WTO debacle
As the dust settles after the collapse of global free trade talks, the WTOs poorest states may be the biggest immediate losers, diplomats say. The WTO’s biggest players have already indicated they will turn their attention to potentially simpler bilateral trade deals, from which the poorest countries are excluded because they have little to offer.

US farm groups ‘disappointed’ following WTO collapse
Leaders of major US farm organizations were disappointed but seemingly resigned to the collapse of the five-year-old Doha round negotiations at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva July 24.

For George Bush, a fair deal means what American farmers demand
Despite the stated aim of the Doha round to redress some of the worst iniquities in the global marketplace that disadvantage the poor, no one seemed to have the stomach for a new wave of globalisation.

Around the world

With negotiations frozen, potential WTO disputes looming
Little over a week after the WTO’s Doha Round negotiations were put into deep freeze on 24 July, government officials and business groups around the world are already contemplating legal disputes against a wide range of policies, especially farm subsidies.

EU may move WTO on India wine imports
The EU today said it plans to approach the WTOs dispute settlement body against trade barriers maintained by India on imported wines and spirits. It served a notice to the Indian government in this regard.

Failed WTO talks: Impact on TRIPS
It may appear that the failed talks should have no direct or indirect impact on TRIPS and other agreements under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). As the provisions under TRIPS have been agreed upon by all members and are at the interpretation and implementation stage.

India, Brazil, S. Africa ties to soar on Aerospace
An ambitious attempt to revive South-South economic cooperation around India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) is expected to receive a major fillip when the heads of state of these developing country majors meet in Brazil during the second week of September.

Ghana: The failed WTO talks and Ghana’s agriculture
Collapse of the WTO talks held recently in Geneva is a big blow to Ghana. Currently, the country is reeling under severe economic pressures and if care were not taken, all her efforts to revamp the agricultural sector will be in vain.

India to offer tariff concessions to least developed African nations
New Delhi’s allegiance to the LDCs at the WTO fora is not shallow. Notwithstanding the collapse of WTO talks, the government is set to extend the unilateral trade preference (UTP) scheme to all LDC in Africa and also to some other such countries, which have no trade agreements with India.

US farm bill under pressure from budget, WTO talks
The next US farm bill to be crafted by 2007 will have to contend with a budget crunch and be designed to withstand challenges in the WTO, a key US senator said.

Africa cotton farmers threaten to demand WTO
Frustrated after a five-year standstill of the negotiations in the WTO, African cotton farmers said on Thursday they could present demands against that organization to defend their sector.

Sri Lanka experiences turbulence in trade pacts with EU and USA
Local efforts in securing market access through trade agreements with US of America and the EU has experienced problems with regards to the rules of origin.

‘Subsidies total more than $300 bn in 2005’
Governments across the globe spent more than $300 billion on subsidies in 2005, with a large majority by 21 rich nations, a WTO report said.


An interim assessment of the US trade policy of “Competitive liberalization”
Simon J. Evenett & Michael Meier

Since it took office the administration of George W. Bush has pursued a trade policy known as Competitive Liberalization. This policy envisages a series of mutually-reinforcing and sequential steps to open markets abroad to US companies, to strengthen market-oriented laws and regulations overseas, and to place the US at the centre of the world trading system. Foreign and security policy considerations have influenced US trade policymaking, perhaps more so than in the 1990s. To date the principal outcome of this policy has been the negotiation by the US of numerous free trade agreements, mainly with developing countries individually or in sub-regional groupings. In addition to characterising this policy in detail, the principal purpose of this paper is to assess the logic underlying this approach to trade policy-making and whether competitive liberalization has begun to fulfil the promise spelt out for it at the beginning of this decade.

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Acknowledgement for country flag pictures: http://www.worldworx.tv/