ICTSD post-Cancun outlook report
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CTA. 2004. ICTSD post-Cancun outlook report. Agritrade, January 2004. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52865
In November 2003 the ICTSD posted on the internet its ‘Agricultural...
In November 2003 the ICTSD posted on the internet its ‘Agricultural negotiations at the WTO: post-Cancun outlook report' which attempts to outline how WTO members could manage the crisis arising from the failure of the Cancun Ministerial and how a process could be launched which would result in a successful conclusion of the negotiations. The paper notes that the EU-US joint text sparked the first step in real negotiations, with counter proposals being tabled by the G20 and the AU/ACP/LDC groups, but that it still remains to be seen as to whether the stalled process can be revived. The report is divided into five sections: an introduction which sets the scene for the agricultural negotiations; a review of members' proposals and the various texts tabled; a review of the events and dynamics of the Cancun Ministerial; a review of the post-Cancun situation; a summary of upcoming issues. The report notes that the EU's attempts to switch expenditures from the blue box to the green box underlying the June 2003 CAP reforms are unlikely to be considered to be payments under environmental programmes falling under paragraph 12 of the existing WTO agreement, but nevertheless that ‘under the current legal position, such “reshuffling” would be in compliance with agriculture trade rules'. This is something which the EU is firmly wedded to but which the G20 and the Cairns Group would like to change. Many observers feel that the European trade bloc is currently not only in a phase of deep reflection, but probably also in a 'sulking mode' as it is has been feeling treated unfairly by other WTO Members. The report notes that ‘there seems to be growing pressure on the Commission by numerous EU member states which want 'to move on' in the negotiations’. However, following discussion with member states through the Article 133 Committee, the Commission maintained that ‘it did not see any reason to alter its position in agriculture (i.e. wants to stick to the EU-US Joint Text), but was willing to 'use' the Derbez text as a basis for future talks if other members wanted to use it.’ Comment: Overall the review suggests little scope for movement on the major issues of concern. A key consideration implicit in the report is that any movement in the talks is likely to hinge on whether the EU and USA can break the alliances which are increasingly questioning the very basis on which agricultural reform is being conducted in the EU – that is to say what constitutes trade-distorting, less trade-distorting and non-trade-distorting forms of agricultural support and how WTO rules should deal with these varied types of support.