Latest WTO agriculture update

Pascal Lamy, the WTO Director-General, provided an end-of-term report on the status of the Doha Round trade negotiations at the July meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee before delegates left for their August break. This is what he had to say about the agricultural negotiations.

As you know, work in agriculture is continuing, particularly in light of the renewed political mandate from the G20 and G8. The Revision 4 bracketed and annotated areas needing further work have been identified. These include SSM [Special Safeguard Mechanism] (especially the architecture), cotton, issues related to sensitive products, preference erosion and tropical products, TRQ [Tariff Rate Quota] expansion as well as tariff simplification. The Chair has indicated that consultations are underway to determine how best to broach these issues, with a view to a steady programme of technical work in late-summer through to the autumn. The aim is to complete as much as possible of the outstanding technical work so as to set the stage for decisions on more political issues.

Discussions are on-going on the templates for scheduling and on the required format of support tables and data needs — both for completion of the templates and for the establishment of modalities and of the time-lines and process for scheduling and verification. It will be important for members to take ownership of this matter so that you can be fully ready, with agreed time lines and formats, to complete the scheduling process in agriculture once modalities are established. This is a very necessary, non-political work that should continue with greater focus through the autumn.

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