WTO DG calls for a balanced approach to negotiations
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CTA. 2003. WTO DG calls for a balanced approach to negotiations. Agritrade, February 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Speaking in India on January 8th 2003 the WTO Director General Supachai...
Speaking in India on January 8th 2003 the WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpahdi explained that while there has been progress in the WTO negotiations in certain areas, progress has been uneven, with little progress on 'special and differential treatment for developing countries and access to essential medicines for poor countries'. Although negotiations on market access in non-agricultural products have been moving forward 'agriculture is extremely politically and culturally sensitive in some key countries'. As a consequence 'finding accommodation will be challenging'. Against this background he maintained that the first step is to agree by the end of March 2003 on 'the formulae and quantitative targets for further liberalisation in the areas of market access, export subsidisation and domestic support'. Comment: Despite the European Commission's efforts to down play the importance of agricultural trade issues in its communication on trade and development where it argued that today 'at least 70% of developing country exports consist of manufactured goods' and that trade in agricultural products accounts for only around 10% of total trade by developing countries, agricultural trade issues are of central importance to the ACP. Overall agricultural exports account for 36% of ACP exports to the EU. For Africa the importance of agricultural trade with the EU is even greater, with agricultural exports accounting for 50% of total exports to the EU in 43% of ACP African countries and agriculture accounting for over 35% of exports in more than half ACP African countries. Against this background progress in the agricultural component of the WTO negotiations in ways which bring real benefits to all developing countries, including the ACP is essential. Ensuring a positive outcome for the ACP however will constitute a major challenge.
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