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Background Note

February 2003

Thematic File: Post-Doha Agenda
Doha Work Programme Negotiations on Agriculture: Summary and Commentary on the Chairman’s Draft Mark One

Market Access
Export Competition
Domestic Support
Recently Acceded Members
Other Groups
Reactions to the Chairman’s Draft

I. Introduction

II. Market Access

A. Tariffs

B. Tariff quotas

C. Special safeguard

D. Non-trade concerns

20. The Chairman’s draft does not attempt to spell out provisions on non-trade concerns raised by developed countries in the area of market access but calls for their further consideration by participants.

III. Export Competition

A. Subsidies

B. Export credits

C. Food aid

D. State trading enterprises

E. Export restrictions and taxes

34. Generally, the institution of new export prohibitions, restrictions or taxes on foodstuffs would be prohibited. Exceptions remain, however, in GATT 1994 (Articles XI, XX and XXI). Article 12 of the Agreement on Agriculture imposed disciplines on new export prohibitions and restrictions on foodstuffs. However, its provisions did not apply to developing countries unless they were net-exporters of the product concerned. The Chairman’s draft proposes that the disciplines and exceptions of Article 12 continue to apply to developing countries.

IV. Domestic Support

A. Amber box

B.  Green box

C. Agricultural and rural development

D. Blue box

E. De minimis limits

V. Recently Acceded Members

47. The Chairman’s draft suggests that recently acceded members be given the flexibility to begin implementing the new commitments on tariffs, tariff quotas, export subsidies and domestic support after-perhaps two years after-they have fully implemented their accession commitments.

VI. Other Groups

48. Participants should give further consideration to proposals calling for additional flexibility for small-island developing states, vulnerable developing countries and transition economies.

VII. Reactions to the Chairman’s Draft

49. An advance copy of the Chairman’s draft was issued on 12 February 2003, just before the “mini-ministerial” meeting held in Tokyo 14-16 February. This meeting gave the first occasion for members to pronounce themselves on the draft. The WTO Director General urged members to consider it as an appropriate basis for negotiations. However, the marked divisions between members became evident as the Chairman’s draft was harshly criticised from all sides and was not accepted as the starting point for negotiations. Instead, it was agreed that the Chairman’s draft was a “catalyst” for further discussions, meaning it would not be the reference point for the negotiations. While the agriculture liberalisers claimed it was not ambitious enough, being bland in improving market access and being too slow in phasing out export subsidies, other members, such as EU, Japan, Korea and Switzerland, considered it unbalanced, with the EU in particular voicing the draft’s failure to address non-trade concerns. Some members, like Canada, could not go along with disciplines imposed on state trading enterprises. As differences are as sharp as ever, and are unlikely to be resolved by end-March, some are suggesting “technical issues” (such as reduction commitments and time periods) in the Chairman’s draft could be left to be resolved at Cancún, without compromising the Doha mandate.

Note 1: TN/AG/W/1, 17 February 2003. (return to text)

Note 2: TN/AG/6, 18 December 2002. (return to text)

Note 3: Methodology proposed by Switzerland during the Tokyo Round for reducing tariffs on industrial products. (return to text)

Note 4: Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Panama, South Africa, Uruguay and Venezuela. (return to text)

Note 5: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia and Venezuela. (return to text)

Note 6: The EU, Japan, Iceland, Norway, Slovak Republic and Slovenia. (return to text)