Conclusions on the trade session
Mr. Martin Khor concluded the session by reminding participants of key messages highlighted by various panelists.
He stressed the case made that EPAs will damage domestic economies, and that there is need to seek alternatives, and protect flexibilities that have been fought for at the WTO, such as the exemption provided for LDCs from reducing their tariffs, and the flexibilities fought for in the new trade facilitation agreement.
Mr. Khor also reminded the participants of the need to continue negotiations on a food security permanent solution post-Bali and to relook into the criteria of the Green Box subsidies. On the issues of NAMA, Mr. Khor recalled the concerns about the new modalities that might be introduced in NAMA. He also stressed that the old modalities, such as the Swiss formula, would have drastic impacts on developing countries that will come under such a formula. He noted that the world has changed since these proposals have been developed, and a lot of lessons have been learned from the financial crisis. He asked whether developing countries could bear the burden of such a formula in a period when their economies are under pressure, many of which are facing balance of payment deficits due to the global crisis.
Mr. Khor also recalled the warning against ‘non-trade issues’, while the issues demanded by developing countries since before the WTO was established have not been addressed up till today. Mr. Khor echoed Ambassador Ricupero’s call for going back to basics in trade negotiations.
Mr. Khor also recalled that the issue of commodities was the main concern for developing countries, and that UNCTAD excelled in bringing up the commodities issues through the commodities agreements that were successful at one stage. Yet, according to Khor, this work has been put aside under the pressure from the Reagan and Thatcher administrations that decided they do not want to cooperate in this area. While developing countries became a bit complacent with the boom in commodities prices that was witnessed during the last few years, all the concerns related to commodities will come back with the softening of this price rise, calling for more work in this area.
He also questioned whether issues such as the commodity problematique should be addressed at the WTO or whether it should be addressed by UNCTAD, stressing that the multilateral trading system is not only the WTO but includes UNCTAD and many other institutions.
On the issues of IP, Mr. Khor recalled that the judiciary in the United States is arguing that there is no case for patenting of human genes, which is another example of the rethinking taking place on the role of IP protections.
On the issue of climate change, Mr. Khor stressed that under a human-rights based approach developed countries are required to take the lead in cutting emissions and in supporting developing countries through the provision of finance and technology transfer.