The Members of the WTO are currently negotiating around-the-clock in order to reach an agreement in time for the up-coming Ministerial Conference in Bali. The three areas that hopefully will constitute this package are Agriculture, Development and Trade Facilitation. The Ministerial Conference begins in Bali, Indonesia 3 December.
In a meeting in the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) Tuesday 12 November, Director-General Azevedo pointed out that the Members have been able to reach agreement on several important issues in the last few days. In particular he underlined that intensive discussion on Customs Cooperation, one of the most difficult hurdles in the Trade Facilitation (TF) negotiations, had been overcome. He did not shirk from reminding the membership that some very hard nuts remain to be cracked but said he could see solutions on the horizons for most of these areas. The biggest unsolved issue in the area of TF is now the section dealing with Special and Differentiated Treatment (SDT) for developing countries.
In other Development issues the negotiations are progressing well according to the Director-General. The issues of preferential Rules of Origin and a Services Waiver for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have both been resolved. The issues of Cotton and Duty-Free, Quota-Free Market Access, also specifically related to the LDCs, are like-wise advancing in a positive manner. This was also true of the so-called Monitoring Mechanism although one or two issues remain.
Agriculture is the third main area of negotiations and DG Azevedo told the Members that he has a positive feeling on the issue of the G33 proposal on Food Security.
Unfortunately that is not his feeling when it comes to the discussions in relation to Tariff Rate Quota Administration, which seems very difficult indeed. He was also concerned regarding the issue of Export Competition.
Director-General Azevedo was clear that a lot of hard work remains to be done but was confident that we could do this as the Membership has shown that we all share the commitment to deliver a package for the Ministerial Conference in Bali.
-Norway is fully committed to reaching an agreement for Bali. Among other things, we have participated in the small group that was decisive in finding the middle ground for the article on Customs Cooperation. Norway will continue to work with the other members of the WTO in different constellations in order to find the necessary solutions for a Bali package, Norwegian Ambassador Haral Neple said afterwards to www.norway-geneva.org