12/07/13 - Jakarta Post - India happy, now Cuba the threat
Linda Yulisman and Zul Eduardo, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua, Bali |
Although India, a staunch opposer to a deal at the ninth World Trade
Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting, finally agreed to a compromise on
Friday, trade officials remained wary as to whether they could hammer out a
historic global trade deal, since the WTO's creation in 1995.
While expectations were high on reaching the finish line during the lengthy
negotiations, which had begun last year, a last-minute drawback has
threatened the entire undertaking.
A draft deal, set to cover new trade reform for trade facilitation,
agriculture subsidies and development packages for least-developed
countries (LDCs), was suspended following opposition from Cuba.
Because decisions at the WTO cannot be reached without the consent of all
member countries, Cuba's stance was "make or break " for the future of the
global trade body.
Cuba's Deputy Foreign Trade Minister, Ileana Nunez Mordoche, refused to
come on board when WTO director general Roberto Azevedo distributed the
text of the deal to the delegation heads, according to WTO spokesman Keith
"They want some language that will pull back the US embargo. That is very
difficult to do," he said. "This is not a place where we can resolve this,"
Rockwell told reporters.
The US enacted the embargo in 1960, after Cuba nationalized properties
belonging to US citizens and corporations; later upgrading to a near-total
embargo in 1962.
A number of countries, including those in the European Union, have long
voiced their concerns over the embargo as it also impacted foreign firms
trading with Cuba.
The United Nations General Assembly recently urged the US to lift its
embargo against Cuba.
At the time of writing, the WTO was due to hold another plenary session at
3 a.m. on Saturday to discuss Cuba's issues.
Cuba rejected the draft text of the trade facilitation, which should apply
"Cuba doesn't want to accept the trade facilitation text. The problem has
emerged again just today [Friday]," said an Indonesian trade official.
This challenge to the US' economic embargo on Cuba was one of the unsettled
issues during the latest talks for a draft text in Geneva at the end of
last month, but greater attention had been paid to the key stumbling block,
a public stockholding proposal by the G33, of which India was the
Earlier in the day, Bayu Krisnamurthi, who is also heading the Indonesian
delegation, said the negotiations were "inching toward the finish line",
with remaining issues mostly being resolved.
"From Indonesia's viewpoint, it [the finish line] is the whole Bali
package," he said.
A deal materialized after lengthy consultations hosted by Azevedo, the
ministerial conference chairman, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan and key
officials from India and the US.
The talks throughout the day overcame the most critical pending issue -
crop stockpiling - which has already caused a row between India and the US.
"In the interim, until a permanent solution is found, and provided that the
conditions set out below are met, members shall refrain from challenging
through the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism," said the revised text of the
proposal on public stockholding, submitted by Azevedo to the full
membership on Friday night.
Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India endorsed the
new text, achieved with "mature understanding".
"For the first time since the launch of the Doha Round negotiations, there
is a decision being made. This is the first time that the global trade
round of talks has been dedicated to the development agenda," he said
referring to the new text.
"It is a victory for the WTO and for the global community to have arrived
at a mature decision," said Sharma, whose stance had initially held up the
"We are more than happy. It's a great day. It's a historic day."
Titik Anas, a senior researcher at the Centre for Strategic and
International Studies, said the achievement of a Bali package would be a
success for the global trade governing body.
"Despite the difficulties in reaching an agreement on the package, WTO
members have managed to come very close to sealing a deal in Bali. [If they
succeed], it will bring back trust to the multilateral trading system and
make room for improving commitments in other areas," she said.
A failure by the 160 WTO members to agree a deal will erode confidence in
the WTO's capacity to foster negotiations for multilateral trade policies.
The deadlock will also trigger a rise in bilateral and regional trade
agreements that are feared could turn into a veritable mélange of
conflicting trade rules.
Points agreed in the deal
1. Developing countries permitted to maintain public food stockpiling for
2. Members agree to negotiate agreement on a permanent solution applicable
to all developing members on the food stockpiling issue for adoption by the
11th Ministerial Meeting, while an interim solution remains in place.
3. Until a permanent solution is found, members shall refrain from
challenging, through the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism, support provided
for traditional staple food crops for food security purposes.
1. No fees or charges will be imposed in respect of transit, except charges
for transportation or those commensurate with administrative expenses
entailed with transit or with the cost of services rendered.
2. Members shall endeavor to establish or maintain a single window,
enabling traders to submit documentation and/or data requirements for
importation, exportation or transit of goods through a single entry point
to the participating authorities.
3. Each member shall apply common customs procedures and uniform
documentation requirements for release and clearance of goods throughout
4. Donor members agree to facilitate the provision of assistance and
support for capacity building to developing and least-developed country
members on mutually agreed terms, either bilaterally or through the
appropriate international organizations.
On least-developed countries (LDCs):
1. Developed and developing countries shall seek to provide duty-free and
quota-free market access to at least 97 percent of products originating
Source: World Trade Organization, The Jakarta Post
Possible impacts of WTO deal
o Indonesia permitted to maintain public stockpiles as part of its food
security program until a permanent solution is agreed
o Indonesia has opportunity for increased agriculture production
o Indonesia faces reduced domestic competition from developed countries
o Improvement in information sharing and monitoring
On trade facilitation
o Increased imports
o Local industries face tighter competition from imported goods
o Greater trade access
o Shared financial burdens between developed and developing countries
o Higher participation by small and medium enterprises
o Cooperation among border agencies
o Potential loss of tax revenues due to freedom of transit
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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