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Nieuwe G7 neemt WTO-onderhandelingen over, Green Room in de wacht gezet (24 juli)

Een artikel van het Third World Network over de aankondiging gisteren door WTO-voorzitter Lamy dat hij de Green Room-groep (selectie van 35 tot 40 WTO-lidstaten) opdeelt in kleinere eenheden om het onderhandelingsproces "beter" te laten verlopen. In feite, zo bleek later, gaft hij het initiatief over de onderhandelingen aan een nieuwe groep van 7 grote lidstaten, bijgenaamd de G7 (bestaande uit de VS, de EU, India, Brazilië, Japan, Australië en China). Uit andere berichtgeving van vandaag blijkt dat veel (andere) lidstaten, ook uit de Green Room-groep hiertegen ernstige bezwaren hebben.

6 min leestijd
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Geneva, 23 July (Martin Khor) — The WTO negotiations shifted gear and format today
when a new group of 7 WTO members was convened and started meeting from 3.00 pm,
replacing the Green Room of 30-40 delegations as the principal forum of

The decision to suspend the Green Room after two days was taken at the end of its
meeting on Tuesday night by WTO Director General Mr. Pascal Lamy.

At the Trade Negotiations Committee informal meeting on Wednesday morning, Lamy said
smaller meetings in various configurations would be held instead of the Green Room
(See separate article). He however did not mention the creation of the new group of
7, which has become the latest development that is not openly announced, but which
many people speculate about.

According to diplomatic sources, the seven comprise the old G6 (the United States,
EU, India, Brazil, Japan and Australia) plus China.

Diplomats said it was clear that the Green Room meeting would not produce results as
the positions expressed are so divergent, and members seemed to be sticking to their

Perhaps it was hoped that the US announcement of a new offer of $15 billion for its
allowable overall trade distorting domestic support (OTDS) in agriculture would have
sparked enthusiastic responses and led to new counter offers. But it got a cool
reaction in the Green Room on Tuesday, especially since the US said it also expected
an assurance that it would not be subjected to legal challenges on domestic support.

The inability of the US offer to galvanise negotiations meant that the Green Room
was unlikely to make progress.

However, there are also strong doubts whether the new small group will be able to
reach convergence.

Said the lead negotiator of a developing country that is in the Green Room: "They
tried the G6, then the G4, and then the G12. If they did not reach agreement, it is
difficult to see how a new G7 can do so."

The official said it became clear in the Green Room that the Ministers were very far
from reaching common ground, and time was running out. "Perhaps it was a mistake to
have called the Ministerial. Now, the DG is trying to steer the ship to the harbour
and avoid a sinking."

Other delegates are of the view that the establishment by Lamy of a small core group
is only to be expected, as decisions cannot be taken quickly in a Green Room of 30
to 40 Ministers.

"We will know more quickly in the group of seven, whether there is any chance of a
possible convergence," said one diplomat.

What is clear is that the non-inclusive process, where all delegations are invited
to the informal TNC but only a few to the Green Room, has just become even more
non-transparent and exclusive, as seven members are now doing the negotiating.

The coordinator of a large grouping of developing countries, who took part in the
Green Room but is not invited be in the new G7 said he had complained to Lamy that
many countries feel they and their issues were now being excluded.

It is understood that nine issues have been identified to be on the agenda of the
G7, similar to the ones mentioned by Lamy as having been discussed in the Green
Room. The six issues in agriculture are overall trade distorting domestic support
(OTDS) including Amber Box and Blue Box, Cotton, market access formula for developed
countries, sensitive products (including number and tariff rate quota expansion),
Special Products (SP) and Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM). The three NAMA issues
are the formula and flexibilities, anti-concentration clause and sectoral

Other outstanding issues such as preference erosion, tropical products, and TRIPS
are also being discussed through small group consultations. This afternoon, the
Mauritius Ambassador, who coordinates the ACP Group, said there had been a lot of
progress on the preference issue in NAMA, but there was still a lot of ground to
cover on the same issue in agriculture.

The star of today’s more public events was undoubtedly Mr. Kamal Nath, the Indian
Commerce Minister who arrived in Geneva in the morning after the Parliamentary
"trust vote" in Delhi, which the government won.

Nath got straight to work, attending the G33 meeting, having several bilateral
meetings, addressing the TNC and holding a press briefing at which he spoke of the
need to complete the WTO modalities because of the world economic crises, but
stressed that he could not give up livelihood and survival imperatives of Indian
farmers and fledgling industries in exchange for major developed countries’ needs to
preserve and increase prosperity of their already rich farmers and industries (see
separate article).

Many "sticking points" remain that make it difficult to see how the G7 or later the
Green Room can reach an agreement in so short a time remaining.

One of the most difficult issues is the agricultural special safeguard mechanism
(SSM) for developing countries. Nath stressed there would be no deal unless an
effective SSM that is easy to use and which addresses the problem of import surges
is set up.

However, a leading G33 negotiator said that developing countries have come under
heavy pressure to make more and more concessions. For example, at a small
consultation on SSM in the past couple of days, the United States was still opposed
to duties being allowed to be raised above the Uruguay Round rates.

It proposed that only very few products could be allowed to be raised above these
rates, but under stringent conditions, including the new idea that different
triggers must be set for products to qualify for the remedy of exceeding the Uruguay
Round rates. This was not acceptable to the G33 countries.

The major developed countries are also understood to have agreed among themselves to
press ahead with their proposals on anti-concentration in NAMA, that developing
countries be restricted in their use of flexibilities so that a significant portion
of any sector cannot make use of the flexibilities. This is opposed by many
developing countries. +