KAMAL NATH INVITES G-20 TO HOLD ITS NEXT MEETING IN INDIA
REITERATES INDIA´S LIMITED FLEXIBILITY IN AGRICULTURAL MARKET
Date : 14 Jun 2004
Location : New Delhi
Shri Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has invited the G-20 to hold its next ministerial meeting in India. This was conveyed by him to Mr. Celso Amorim, the Brazilian Foreign Minister, at a bilateral meeting in Sao Paulo on Saturday evening. Brazil is the coordinator of the G-20. Shri Kamal Nath appreciated the important role of Brazil in the G-20 and said that the consolidation of this Group on agriculture was important not only for G-20 but for all WTO member countries.
Discussing the present state of play in the WTO negotiations in agriculture and their respective assessments regarding the kind of framework for agricultural negotiations that was proposed to be achieved in July, Shri Kamal Nath reiterated India´s limited flexibility in the area of agricultural market access in order to protect its interests in the rural sector, even as it was prepared to move forward in the negotiation. He emphasized that any formula for the framework must adequately address the concerns of member countries in respect of all the three pillars of the agreement on agriculture namely, domestic support, export competition and market access and market access alone should not be allowed to overtake the other two pillars which were of vital concern to developing countries. Mr. Amorim underlined the role of G-20 as a strategic alliance and said that "never had the developing countries participated as actively or perceived as such active players in impacting the agricultural negotiations in the WTO as also the public opinion". The ideals of trade liberalization combined with social justice were symbolised by the alliance between India and Brazil, he said. The blended formula of tariff reduction which developing countries had rejected was no formula at all, he stressed, adding that the new blue box being proposed by some developed countries should be subject to severe disciplines. He emphasied that the G-20 had made a lot of progress till now, even as a lot of work was yet to be done.
Later, following the Ministerial meeting of G-20, in which Shri Kamal Nath participated, a Ministerial communiqué was issued, which stated that the G-20 meeting took place at a crucial moment in the Doha round as WTO members sought to reach agreement on a framework for agriculture negotiations by the end of July 2004. The meeting assessed the current stage of Doha round negotiations with special emphasis on agriculture and considered the next steps in the negotiations. "G-20 Ministers reiterated that maintaining the level of ambition of the Doha mandate remains the guiding principle of the negotiations. In this context, any framework text must be fully consistent with the Doha Mandate and lead to the establishment of modalities capable of ensuring substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support, substantial increase in market access, phasing-out with a view to elimination of all forms of export subsidies and operational and effective special and differential treatment, that takes into account food and livelihood security and rural development needs``, the communiqué said.
The Ministers noted that negotiations on agriculture were central to move the Doha round to a successful and timely conclusion. Trade in agricultural products continued to be hindered by all sorts of barriers and distortions and therefore, true liberalization in agricultural trade must include reforms to address such barriers and distortions in order to achieve the development objectives of the Doha round. The interests and concerns of developing members would have to be paramount in the negotiations and special and differential treatment for developing countries must be fully reflected in the outcome.
The Ministers stressed that a number of important and sensitive issues remained to be tackled with regard to domestic support. Substantial reductions in (trade distorting) support, stronger disciplines and effective monitoring would be essential. "For achieving substantial reduction of domestic subsidies, there must be deep cuts in the sum of overall trade-distorting support, which calls for, inter alia, clarity regarding the point of departure for reduction commitments in the Blue Box. Improved disciplines in distorting domestic support are required to avoid product and box shifting. The importance of accepting product-specific disciplines in the Amber and in the Blue Box was highlighted. Enhanced monitoring mechanisms are essential to provide confidence that commitments by Members will be fulfilled. As far as the Green Box is concerned, Ministers stressed the importance of ensuring its non-trading distorting nature, and, therefore, the need to clarify its criteria, while ensuring transparency and accountability in its utilisation."
On export subsidy, Ministers welcomed the progress in the negotiations over credible end-date for the phasing out of all forms of export subsidies, as mandated at Doha and said that to achieve this, workable and precise definition regarding timeframes and disciplines will be needed so as to elimination of direct export subsidies as well as all forms of subsidies in terms of export credits, state trading enterprises activities etc.
The Ministers also welcomed the fact the G-20 document (on market access) has prompted renewed substantive discussions on the market access issue in agriculture and allowed for better understanding of each members´ position and issues which would have to be resolved.
The Group has also been successful in its efforts to take into account the concerns of other members outside the G-20 in its proposal, especially of other developing countries and least developed countries.
The Ministers also expressed their common belief that South-South trade i.e. increased trade flows among developing countries would be a major contribution to enhancing their integration into global trade as a whole and stressed the importance of launching a third round of negotiations under the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among developing countries during UNCTAD XI.