Doha Development Agenda Forward”
European American Business Council (EABC)
26 February 2004
thanks, Robert, and also to Michael Maibach of the EABC for welcoming me here.
Once again, let me say how good it is to be back in Washington, and good to be
back at the EABC, where I recall I made my first US speech as Trade Commissioner
back in October 1999. I actually looked up my remarks on that occasion. I
discovered that I said to you then that I had a reputation as some kind of
latter day technocratic ascetic, who works 20 hours a day, and who regards lunch
as for wimps. Well, after four and a half years on the road, let me tell you
that I have changed. I now do sometimes have lunch.
discovered that I said back in 1999 that the priority was the upcoming Seattle
meeting, that it was sure to be a success in launching the new Round, and that
we should aim for a three year round in
Seattle. So that makes implementation of the Round a sure bet, let
me see, for late 2002. If I had been right, I sometimes wonder what the hell I
would be doing with my time now. But clearly, another thing I learned over the
years is “never make predictions”.
here we are in early 2004, with the Round officially coming out of its
post-Cancun swoon. And this time round, the prediction that I keep hearing is
that it is completely hopeless to try to make progress in 2004, because, they
all tell me, the US
never moves on trade in an election year. Well let me tell you, I find these
kind of statements pretty annoying. And I imagine that Bob Zoellick does too.
Because if that it is true, both of us have wasted the best part of two months
flying just about everywhere to push the case for the Doha Development Agenda,
and we aren't alone in that.
wisdom is easy and it's fun, but rarely wise. Apart from anything else, try to
pick a moment when the US is not coming towards a Presidential election or a
mid-term. So that's my first message. Do not assume that 2004 is a year for the
dogs on the Doha Round. It is evident that we are in an era of what I have
called generalised “trade fatigue”, an era where the constant pressures and
challenges of globalisation have the capacity to “wear down” decision-making by
governments. But at the same time, there are a lot of Ministers out there who
are very committed to moving forward. Indeed, since Cancun, we have come a long
way. We have all had our internal reflection processes. And more importantly,
all WTO members also collectively expressed their commitment in December and
followed this up by taking a decision at the WTO GC in February on the chairs of
the different negotiating groups. So there is also progress on the practical
steps necessary to get the negotiation machinery going again in Geneva. Geneva
is back to work.
wanted to use my speech today to flag up the key areas where we can and must
make progress in the Doha Development Agenda. Doubtless there are many
journalists dying to ask about our bilateral trade disputes – it wouldn't be a
lunch speech in Washington
without a question on FSC, after all ! But let me focus today on the priority
for the European Union, namely the Doha Round.
What's the target for 2004?
onto my second message on
what can we achieve in 2004? Answer: significant progress across the board. Sort
of between half and two thirds of the way to the
end of the Round. That, in my
views, is worth having. And so what are we doing about it? For my part, I have
had talks with the G-20 (followed up by detailed consultations in
at senior official level only a couple of weeks ago), with the G-90 (both in
Bangladesh and Kenya) and ASEAN countries (in Jakarta, again only a few weeks
ago). And of course, I have as ever had plenty of time with Bob Zoellick to talk
all this through – last week in
and again tomorrow.
Everywhere I go, the message is the same: very positive. The tonality, the body
language of all the different participants is unrecognisable from the dark days
at the end of Cancun. I think a lot of Ministers are now ready to admit, at
least in private, that we all made a mistake in Cancun. As they say, in any
deal, you should never leave money on the table. Even more ridiculous, as in
Cancun, for us to have collectively walked away from the table before the money
was put down.
frankly speaking, that's the easy bit. Making commitments that we want to move
forward is like saying: I am ready to climb a mountain. It's necessary, but it
isn't sufficient. We now need to actually make progress. We must translate the
generalised political will into real negotiations and solutions in Geneva – on
specific points. And we don't have a lot of time because we effectively have a
brief window of opportunity from now to the end of August. Why ? Because
although it is perfectly fair to expect the US to play a full part in the course
of the year, we shouldn't expect much movement after Labour Day, in the high
season of US political campaigning.
after 1 November, the current European Commission comes to an end of its
mandate, and the odds are that both individuals and/or portfolios might change
for the next five year period. So we need to be ready to move rapidly to secure
what we have called the “modalities” for the rest of the negotiation, the
framework that we hoped to achieve in
Cancun. That can and should be done in the next couple of months – and then
we should look to see if we can go beyond that if possible. All we have to fear
is fear itself. And all we have to lose is the European summer holidays.
Progress on what ?
it is time to focus on essentials. The key issues or groups of issues are the
following, and I want to spend a little time going through them with you today.
Agriculture, industrial tariffs, Singapore issues and Development. These are the
four make or break questions on which decisions are needed. Once we have
solutions for these four core issues, the rest of the decisions for DDA will
fall into place, if not immediately, then at least relatively easily.
therefore today want to present the EU's concrete proposals to move things
forward on substance. We have a lot of negotiating flexibility based on the
position we tabled in December, which is itself the result of movement
throughout 2003 on the different topics.
recognise the crucial importance of agriculture in these negotiations and to the
EU as well as other WTO members. We are ready to engage across the board. For
example, we have proposed to eliminate export subsidies on a list of products of
interest to DCs. The curious thing is, in the year since we made this proposal,
that no-one has come forward with the products they want to eliminate. This is
not rocket science, after all. It is as if countries fear there is a trap here:
as if countries are hooked on the media's standard view that the Europeans
always have a secret agenda on agriculture, usually involving sugar. Well we
don't. We don't propose any a priori exclusions. And to take sugar again, the
only question is perhaps the timeframe because clearly we can't eliminate
immediately until our internal reform has worked its magic. And of course the
only other important piece of conditionality is that the US and others need to
be ready to take equally comprehensive commitments on their own export support
programmes, such as on surplus disposal disguised as food aid, export credits,
single desk arrangements or the like.
again, let me turn to agricultural market access. Here we would have preferred a
Uruguay Round formula, for obvious reasons, not least the fact that it provides
already for different flexibilities. But we have accepted the concept of a
blended formula. We have sensitivities, but that is not a secret to anybody and
nor are we alone in this. Indeed developing countries themselves have
sensitivities – India,
for example, is understandably concerned about the plight of its 600 million
subsistence farmers. Others are worried about losing their preferential access
to developed country markets, and notably EU markets.
finally on agricultural domestic support, we can and will make new commitments
to reduce, as long as there is agreement in working within the existing
framework, with the different boxes: amber, blue and green. I . We can commit
within this structure. We can accept a very very big reduction in the amber box.
We can agree to disciplines on the blue box and we can also agree to changes in
the structure of the blue box, although we don't need such changes, which the
have asked for. We are ready to agree that the amber and blue box combined would
be less than the present support for these boxes. And I don't need to remind you
that cotton needs to be addressed as a key part of the agriculture negotiations.
But clearly we will only get out of this negotiation by all of us, the heavy
subsidisers, making real reductions in the most trade distorting forms of
now turn to non-industrial tariffs because in this area too, I don't think we
have so far to go to agree on framework modalities. What we need is a basic
understanding of the nature of contributions that WTO members must make,
corresponding to their capacity, size of market and level of development. It is
clear that we should not ask for much tariff reduction from Sub-Saharan Africa,
and more generally from the least developed countries and small developing
countries. There is a clear need here for protection of both markets and indeed
revenue. But it equally clear that other DCs such as Brazil and India can and
should make a real contribution.
of course, having just acceded to the WTO, is something of a special case, but
she, too, must do her part.
tough question is where you draw the line between weaker and stronger developing
countries – but that does not need to be decided now. We must find a solution to
the question of preference erosion problem in this area too. But as in
agriculture, we need to be wary of contorted non-market based compensation
schemes, and should focus on the opening up of new markets to compensate for
reduction of preferences – mainly by opening up markets in large DCs. It is high
time that preferences from both industrialised countries and the bigger DCs,
such as those the EU grants under its Everything But Arms scheme should be
granted and locked into WTO commitments. This will be key to delivering the
development dimension for LDCs in the DDA. The interesting development is that
big developing countries like Brazil have been going in this direction, and in
doing so, we may be able to shake off the notion that this is really a
north-south collision. Much can and should be done to bolster south-south trade
in this negotiation because a lot of the future growth in trade is going to be
in the South.
remains a difficult part of the negotiation, although I am not sure Bob Zoellick
was right to call these issues a “distraction”. I hope he does not have the same
vision about anti-dumping which is of course a pre-Singapore issue!
what we have now is consensus among WTO members on one point: that we have to
treat each issue on its own merits. It is now the time to put meat on the bone
on that concept and decide what to do. Our view is clear. There is no reason why
Trade Facilitation and Transparency in Government Procurement should not remain
part of the DDA Single Undertaking. Support for these issues is widespread.
also disagree with Bob when he says that procurement can drop out of the Single
Undertaking too. No issue more closely represents the interface between
government and business. At the same time, of course I understand and am ready
to address anxieties that this will simply lead to a market access negotiation
about Investment and Competition? Clearly there is less support here in the WTO.
We are nothing if not observant. It is an enormous pity if these issues have to
come out of the Single Undertaking because they are so relevant for the trade
reality is that there is insufficient support for the time being to pursue these
issues within the single undertaking. Given that, one option is to allow those
members that are interested in elaborating rules on these issues to forge ahead
with this. We should not accept that progress is dictated by the slowest ship in
the convoy. The process would have to be transparent and open to all and should
anchor these agreements firmly within WTO.
same token, many countries have expressed the view that they do not want to be
part of such a process. Consequently, no member should be forced to participate
in the negotiation process nor to subscribe to the results. We are absolutely
ready to accept that. The flip-side of this coin is however that no-one should
block others from moving forward, if they want to do so.
but not least, development. This remains crucial for the overall balance of the
Round. One aspect is the integration of the development dimension across the
board of the issues in the DDA. Development questions cannot be segregated off –
they also need to be at the heart of our discussion on industrial tariffs and
are ready to go further. On the specific questions raised by developing
countries in the context of special and differential treatment we are ready to
show increased flexibility on the substance of these issues, and to go along
with the idea of a specific negotiating group on this. We also need to recognise
that we should be creative in finding solutions to the different problems of
developing countries. Their needs are not identical. The smaller and weaker
members - that is the LDCs, landlocked countries and small economies/small
island developing states – have particular development problems and on that
basis seek and deserve more flexibilities, derogations etc. So both we the EU
and you here in the US need to be ready to do more here to address the needs of
these countries, which means showing some real flexibility.
finally, before closing, back to process. It wouldn't be a Round without
focusing on process. Here, I see the issues rather clearly. The EU and US need
to be ready to work together, but not only together. We both have to build
bridges with the G20, the G90 and others. Not always in full view of the world's
press, because no negotiation was ever cooked effectively under arc lights. Some
parts never get cooked at all, and others get burned.
of all, we need to be ready in capitals to instruct our Geneva ambassadors and
our senior officials to translate this political will into negotiating texts. It
is very easy to dine out on assaulting Geneva, to point out – as I have – that
no Geneva ambassador was ever sacked for saying “no”, while there are plenty who
have found themselves looking for work after saying “yes”. But we all know what
diplomatic instructions are, and we should stop hiding behind our Ambassadors.
If the fun and games continue in Geneva, the buck stops back home.
what's the target? I think we should aim at the WTO General Council in May as
the latest point at which we aim to secure “Cancun-like” outcomes on modalities.
I think that is really achievable, and we should push hard to get there.
me stop there. I recognise that I have rather ground you into the detail here
this lunchtime. Partly that's my style. But partly because I think we have done
the pretty part of re-committing to this negotiation. We now have to move to the
specifics of this negotiation. Further generalities, expressions of good will,
will not suffice. Of course it is tricky trying to negotiate something this
complex with 148 increasingly active players. And of course the stakes are high
in an MFN system. But so, of course, are the benefits – for the EU, for the US,
no point stressing out about which particular point we can get to during the
course of this year. The answer, boringly, is “quite a long way”. But because
this negotiation is going to be a lot of hard work right to the end, we owe it
to the system, and indeed those who might inherit the system, to get as far as
possible this year, as quickly as possible.
Revista INTER-FORUM is affiliated with
Any reproduction in part or whole is strictly forbidden without the authors written authorization