Philippines leads 11 hardliners in WTO talks

HONG KONG — The Philippines has taken a lead role in the developing countries’ bid to force the rich member countries of the World Trade Organization to cut their subsidies, open their markets and give less developed nations a break from further tariff reductions on their industries. With 10 other countries, the Philippines signed a strongly worded position paper on the conditions that the group said needed to be met for negotiations to proceed on the so-called non-agriculture market access (NAMA).

The signatories, which included Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Namibia, Pakistan and South Africa, said the developed countries have been ?reluctant to offer their fair share? in the NAMA talks.

The NAMA negotiations cover all industries, including fisheries, that fall outside the agreement on agriculture (AOA). Products under NAMA represent about 90 percent of global trade.

“The ambition in NAMA cannot be viewed in isolation. It has to be proportional and commensurate with the contributions by developed countries in other market access areas. Developing countries cannot be expected to pay for the much-needed reforms in the agriculture sectors of developed countries,” the Group of 11 (G11) countries said in a statement.

G-11 position

The European Union, United States and Japan have been pushing for the binding of all but five percent of tariff lines, which would lead to a further tariff reduction on fishery products and allow the entry of cheaper imports.

The position paper of the G11 countries was submitted to John Tsang, chair of the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference, on Dec. 13. The WTO conference at the Wan Chai Convention Center here runs until Dec. 18.

The Fair Trade Alliance’s Wigberto Tañada, who is an adviser to the Philippine negotiating team, said the Philippines wants a 15-year tariff reduction break for Nama products.

He said the government wants the WTO to give credit to the Philippines? unilateral liberalization by giving the country 15 tariff-reduction-free years to allow domestic industries to catch up with foreign competitors.

The Philippines, which is leading the G33 countries, another trade bloc seeking special listing and special safeguard mechanisms for sensitive agricultural products, scored a major victory as some 110 countries expressed support for G33 proposals.

Manuel Teehankee, the Philippines? permanent representative to the WTO, said the Philippines also did not want to move from its position on the General Agreement on Trade and Services, which would adversely affect its $8-billion labor export sector.

He said the developed countries were “not happy¨ because they cannot impose sanctions under the current request-offer system? under which a country can decide to open up its services sector to foreign ownership and control through bilateral agreements. (INQ7)


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    Report on the business meeting of the Asian WTO Research Network held at NTU…

    Data Source: Asian WTO Research Network
    Bulletin: 2009/6/19
    On 23 May 2009, the AWRN held a business meeting at the National Taiwan University. As Mr. Iwamoto, the Secretary of the Network, was not available, Professor Mitsuo Mats…

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