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Overview of the Doha round: ACP interests and proposals - H.E Mr. Marwa J. Kisiri, Head of ACP Geneva Office

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Delivered at the ACP Group Ambassadors & Experts Retreat: "Update on ACP data analysis and positions in preparation for a contribution towards defining a Post-Bali Work Program to conclude the Doha Development Agenda." 4-6 July, Lausanne - Switzerland
 
Mr Chairman;
Allow me to express my appreciation to the Trade advocacy fund and the Enabling Environment for making it possible for us to converge at this important retreat. Today we bestow upon us a task to develop the ACP work programme that will together with others help shape the overall WTO DDA work programme. My topic will be an Overview of the Doha round and ACP interests and proposals. My interventions will be limited to the following areas:
The performance of the ACP Group in global trade and development over the years; Participation in the Doha Round ACP interests and proposals; Post Bali issues; Interface on the Post-UN 2015 agenda on SDG
 
i) ACP Group in global trade and development
 
It is worth reminding us that the ACP Group consists of 80 members, of which 48 countries are from Sub-Saharan Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 15 from the Pacific region. 60 of the ACP members are also WTO members, 8 of them are in accession process while 11 are neither members of the WTO nor observers. Further, there are 55 Member States Missions in Geneva and 25 non-resident Missions. ACP also has Collaborating Partners based in Geneva and these are the Organization of Eastern and Caribbean States (OECS), Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) and Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). 
 
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
In the past decades, ACP trade in goods and services has been stagnant growing at a modest rate of 0.7% annually. During 1980 to 2000, the Caribbean’s exports expansion was quasi-stagnant at a rate of 0.05%, Pacific had an export growth of only 1.6% and Africa recorded the highest export growth of 3.4% during the same period. Major developed countries have been and remain the most important trading partners for ACP States. A high degree of diversity in the size and pattern of trade flows is prominent among the ACP States. The degree of participation by ACP States in international trade differs significantly across and within different regions. However, there are noticeable evolution patterns of trade for ACP States. African States are moving towards the diversification of their export structure by upgrading to higher-value-added products in manufacturing and food processing. Nonetheless, the region continues to rely heavily on exports of primary commodities (including minerals) and agricultural raw materials although to a lesser extent compared to previous decades. The Caribbean and Pacific States have increased specialisation in Trade in Services with travel and tourism emerging as the major source of increased export earnings. 
 
Mr Chairman, in 2012, merchandise exports of the ACP Group accounted for 2.6% of total world export whereas 13.5% were intra-group trade. Evidently, minerals, fuels and lubricants account for the major share of exported commodities representing 55% of all commodities. The remaining commodities account for far lesser shares in total ACP products with manufactured goods at 10%, crude materials 9% and 8% were animal and vegetable oils and commodities and transactions account for relatively higher shares of exports. Total services exports, accounted for 1.9% of total world trade under the same period. It is without a doubt that there is a great potential to expand and improve on this trade landscape. 
 
ii) Doha Round
 
a) In 2001 the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) was launched with a resolve to bring the element of development that is at the heart of developing countries and LDCs to the negotiating table.
 
b) In 2003 the Cancun Ministerial was held, members remained entrenched on the Singapore issues and thus no positive outcome was met. The Cancun Ministerial in 2003 had important issues relating to LDCs, however no agreement was signed.
 
c) In 2004, the July package that was a follow up from Cancun witnessed important issues brought on the table for instance the Integrated Framework, trade-related technical assistance, Special and Deferential provisions to be in line with WTO rules.
 
LDCs were to have full access to special and differential treatment and not required to undertake reduction of commitments, duty free quota free market access for developing countries, and a pronunciation on Non tariff barriers as well as Annex A on Agriculture and Annex B on NAMA.
 
Mr Chairman;
 
The Hong Kong Ministerial of 2005 mentioned on cotton, elimination of export subsidies and market access for LDCs, still nothing came to pass apart from the TRIPs Agreement on public health and access to medicines.
 
d) The 2008 July package came out in a deadlock as members failed to agree on the modalities on Agriculture Rev. 4 text .In December the same year, the Rev. 3 text on NAMA was developed.
 
e) In 2009, Ministers met in Geneva and called for a speedy conclusion of the Doha round. There was a strong convergence on trade and the Doha round, particularly the need for the development dimension to be at the centre of the round. The LDCs issues were underlined as needing special attention particularly, Duty Free, Quota Free market access (DFQF) cotton and the LDC services waiver as well as the needs for the Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) were emphasised.  There was wide recognition that providing market access alone to developing countries and LDCs was not enough on its own hence the need for capacity building to address supply side constraints.
 
f) In 2011, Ministers welcomed the accession of Russia, Vanuatu, Samoa and Montenegro into the WTO and recognised the contribution of accession to strengthening the Multilateral Trading System (MTS). There was a call to fully operationalise the CTD as a focal point for development work. There was also an extension of the LDCs transition period under Article 66.1 of the TRIPs Agreement in document IP/C/59 Add.2 and an LDC services waiver in document TN/S/37. Ministers also called for full implementation of decision 36 of Annex F of the Hongkong declaration on measures in favour of LDCs and  also welcomed the Istanbul Plan of Action for LDCs for the period 2011 to 2020. Furthermore the Ministers agreed to expedite work towards finalising the monitoring mechanism for special and differential treatment and also agreed to take stock of the Cancun 28 proposals in Annex C. These provided a corner stone to the agreements passed in the Bali 2013 Ministerial. 
 
g) In 2013, the WTO Ministerial concluded successfully with the adoption of a total of sixteen decisions , of these they were four specific to LDCs namely rules of origin, operationalisation of the services waiver, Duty free Quota Free (DFQF) market access and cotton. There were five decisions under the WTO regular work, 10 decisions on elements of a Bali package from the Doha Development  Agenda (DDA) covering development, LDC issues, Agriculture and Trade facilitation as well as a Ministerial declaration. This Bali package represented the first instalment of substantive decisions taken by Ministers under the DDA.
 
iii) ACP Interests and proposals
 
a) Agriculture and Cotton
The ACP Group supports the C4 initiative, the support is expressed in the ACP ministerial communiqué and the December 2009 Ministerial Conference. The positions defended by the group inc lude:
The immediate elimination of subsidies;
The immediate reduction of production support in the Agricultural sector;
Duty free access for cotton and all cotton products to all OECD countries; and
The establishment of development assistance programmes for cotton to compensate for losses incurred in the trade distorting policies pursued by OECD countries in the cotton sector.
 
b) NAMA
The ACP has held discussions on the NTB issues including NTBs, the Group presented 6 horizontal proposals and 10 vertical proposals which were classified into wagon 1 (high priority) and wagon 2 (low priority). In the horizontal proposals wagon 1 consisted of the horizontal mechanism, remanufactured goods, framework for industrial specific NTB proposals. While the vertical proposals consisted of NTBs pertaining to standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures for chemicals; The understanding of the TBT Agreement as applied to electronics, TBT in respect to textiles,TBT in respect to standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment  procedures for Automotive products. Wagon 2 dealt with conformity to fireworks, forestry products, the Cuban embargo, export licensing and lighters.
 
ACP focus was mainly on NTBs other than NTMs since NTBs are a bigger problem for the ACP group.
 
ACP considered remanufacturing important. This called for a definition of remanufactured goods and presentation of warranties with customs documents
 
TA and S&DT:   The need to Strengthen all technical assistance provisions particularly in regards to the NTB framework was proposed, on International Standards; Cautious identification of international standardisation was considered and the importance to retain the flexibilities in the TBT agreement was the Group's position.
 
On sectoral initiatives; the ACP Group reiterated that they would not disturb the balance in the modalities, more particularly, in so far as sectoral negotiations relating to exports of Small Vulnerable African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. Indeed, sectoral initiatives must not erode ACP preferences prematurely or lead to commitments that negate the gains of the ACP Group in the modalities. 
 
c) Development issue
The ACP supported the Aid for Trade Initiative launced in 2005 with an aim to address supply side constraints.On special and differential treatment SDT the Group considered that these provisions should be reviewed to make them effective and operational.
 
d) Services
The ACP has faced challenges accessing the services trade beyond tourism and the LDCs movement of natural persons. On domestic regulations, the ACP group engaged in discussions on whether to include necessity tests before measures could be applied. The ACP continues to support the LDC group as they advance their mandate on the services waiver.
 
e) Trade and Environment
The ACP group share common views in the negotiations on Trade and Environment in line with paragraph 31 of the Doha declaration. They view that they are particularly vulnerable to climate change and will be disproportionally affected by changing weather patterns leading to desertification or rising sea level resulting in loss of land and territory. The Group is determined to achieve:
Mutual supportiveness between trade and environment;
Address trade related aspects of climate change;
A balanced and ambitious outcome between trade and environment; 
 
f) Trade facilitation
The Trade Facilitation Agreement implementation has been central to the work of the ACP Group. The Agreement successfully went through a legal review in which the ACP Group, participated and contributed to safeguard its interests particularly in section II of the TFA. Just this past week the ACP together with the Africa and LDC Group contributed to the proposal of establishment of a TF facility fund in the Preparatory Committee meeting on Trade Facilitation.
 
I hereby urge members to take advantage of the flexibilities the TF Agreement presents while categorising their commitments. 
 
iv) Post Bali 
 
The ACP Geneva Office in collaboration with the MTS programme organised a post- Bali reflection meeting on the 22-24th January to craft strategic policy responses for the Bali outcomes and other new trade issues. On 11 and 12 March 2014 the Geneva Office organised another WTO Brainstorming Session for the ACP Group which drew resource persons from UNCTAD, ITC, FAO and the South Centre, among others. At this Session the ACP Group outlined possible elements of a work programme as a contribution towards the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).
 
 It was agreed during the Session that UNCTAD, FAO and ITC should, from time-to-time, share data with the ACP Group to inform the Group’s proposals. This retreat is a follow up of the proposals that were crafted by members at the previous meetings the ACP group has organised since January.
In conclusion Mr Chairman;
 
v) Post-2015 Agenda onSDGs
 
In the context of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, international trade should be an enabler for achieving a broad range of development goals, through promoting inclusive and sustainable growth. When properly harnessed the opportunities brought by international trade can be a powerful force for creating jobs, enabling efficient use of resources, providing incentives to entrepreneurs and ultimately improving standards of living in all countries.  The ACP group in collaboration with other organisations should continue to urge the negotiators to clearly position trade as an enabler for sustainable development.
 
I thank you.
 
***
 


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