DEVELOPMENT FOCUS OF DOHA AGENDA MUST BE FULLY INTACT, ARUN JAITLEY TELLS OECD
Date : 01 May 2003
Location : New Delhi
Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Law & Justice, has called for a strong message from the developed world represented by the OECD that the development focus of the Doha agenda will be fully intact. In a statement that he made to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Ministerial Council meeting held yesterday in Paris, to which India has been invited as a non-member participant, he stressed the need for satisfactory resolution of all pending issues including those relating to TRIPS and Public Health, Implementation issues and issues relating to Special & Differential Treatment before the Cancun Ministerial Conference. Shri Jaitley also underlined that the agenda for the Cancun Ministerial Conference should not be overloaded. Attempts should be made to resolve many of the issues before the Ministerial Conference itself, he said.
Shri Jaitley made it clear that for developing countries, further progress in the negotiations would hinge on satisfactory resolution of these development issues, viz., Special & Differential and Implementation Issues and TRIPs & Public Health. "It must be recognised there are political pressures within developing countries arising out of failure to meet deadlines. We can recover lost ground to some extent if these issues are addressed and resolved before Cancun. The Chairman of Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) and the Chairman of the General Council have been making efforts to resolve the Implementation and S&D Issues. Constructive engagement by all Members would be important. The need of the hour is a strong message from the developed world represented by the OECD that the development focus of the Doha Agenda is very much intact", he said.
Addressing the OECD session on Trade Issues, Shri Jaitley observed that the Doha Work Programme was proceeding at two speeds. "On issues of interest to the developed countries, there is an attempt to make good progress or set high ambitions as in the area of industrial tariffs or in some services sectors. The second aspect that we see is that while at the Ministerial level, there is a recognition to provide policy space and greater flexibilities for developing countries, this does not always percolate to the technical level discussions. In the Doha Declaration which has been projected as the Doha Development Agenda, it has been clearly noted that the Ministers place the needs and interests of developing countries at the heart of the Doha Work Programme. But when the issues go to the level of Committees or Negotiating Groups where the actual negotiations take place the scene is different. The developed country negotiators strive to get the best deal for themselves and avoid meeting developing country issues on tenuous technical grounds or are willing to consider flexibilities only in terms of longer transition periods. Attempts are also made to divert the discussions by also calling for upfront differentiation and graduation among developing countries".
In the agriculture negotiations, Shri Jaitley has said that India remains deeply concerned by attempts to set aside the special consideration necessary for developing countries to deal with their large and poor rural communities despite an explicit negotiating mandate and an extensively documented need to urgently improve the living conditions of the poor people in the world. The OECD study on agricultural policies itself concludes that agricultural support and protection provided in OECD countries depresses rural income in developing countries. "Therefore, any further market access commitments by developing countries like India must be tempered in order to enable them to safeguard food and livelihood security of their rural poor and promote Rural Development through adequate protection at the border. In addition, developing countries must be provided sufficient flexibility in applying safeguards to address different situations", he said. The modalities on subsidy and support must effectively redress the adverse impact of developed country policies on developing countries by substantially reducing subsidy and support and prevent a mere shifting of support to circumvent commitments. Moreover, there may be little to be gained by reducing tariffs, if non-tariff barriers, including those created through the guise of sanitary and phytosanitary measures remain, Shri Jaitley cautioned and added that establishing modalities in Agriculture before Cancun would significantly improve resolution of many issues before Cancun.