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International Trade Essay

3463 words - 14 pages

The Green Barrier to Free Trade
C. P. Chandrasekhar, Jayati Ghosh and Parthapratim Pal

At the end of the latest round of meetings of the agricultural negotiations committee of the WTO, the optimism that negotiators would manage to come at a consensus on numerical targets, formulas and other “modalities” through which countries can frame their liberalisation commitments in a new full-fledged round of trade negotiations has almost disappeared. In a report by the negotiations’ chairperson to the Trade Negotiations Committee, circulated to WTO member governments on 7 July 2003, the chairperson Stuart Harbinson says: “Achieving the objective of establishing modalities as soon as possible has ...view middle of the document...

The factors making agriculture the sticking point on this occasion are numerous. As in the last Round, there is little agreement among the developed countries themselves on the appropriate shape of the global agricultural trade regime. There are substantial differences in the agenda of the US, the EU and the developed countries within the Cairns group of agricultural exporters. When the rich and the powerful disagree, a global consensus is not easy to come by. In this round of negotiation, the complexity of the situation is likely to increase because a number of developing country including Cuba, Chile, Kenya, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Zimbabwe has taken a very pro-active role in the negotiations and have often expressed vies which are significantly different from the views expressed by the big three. The extent of disagreement among different country groups can be gauged from a recent paper by the Chairman of WTO Agriculture Committee Stuart Harbinson. This paper is based on the country proposals submitted during the current round of agricultural negations and the follow up consultations among the WTO Members conducted after Doha ministerial. The objective of this paper is to summarize the main features and results of the consultations and to provide a basis for working towards the establishment of modalities for the further commitments. This paper shows that not only there are still wide gaps in the positions among participants regarding fundamental aspects of the further negotiations but there also exist significant differences in the level of ambition among the member countries. What is even more worrying for the future of the agricultural negotiation is that even the latest round of talks, countries are not showing any inclination towards reconciliation. According to reports published in the International Trade Daily, after a negotiating group session held during 2224th January 2003, Harbinson noted that the meeting was intended to "build bridges" between opposing camps and push the WTO talks forward as members head towards their March 31

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deadline for finalizing negotiating modalities. Instead, he adds, "we have made very little headway in building bridges”. It is expected that with members failing to mend their differences, the first draft of a methodology framework for agricultural negotiations will be chair driven and is expected to be circulated before a mini-Ministerial scheduled for Tokyo Feb. 14-16. Given the progress so far, it seems virtually impossible that the March 31st deadline of finalizing the modalities will be met. But that is not all. Even if an agreement is stitched up between the rich nations, through manoeuvres such as the Blair House accord, getting the rest of the world to go along would be more difficult this time. This is because the outcomes in the agricultural trade area since the implementation of the Uruguay Round (UR) Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) began have fallen far short of...

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