SVEs group submits contribution for the post-Bali Work Programme at the WTO
Guatemala, on behalf of the small, vulnerable economies (SVEs) group, submitted on 17 June their contribution for inclusion into the post-Bali Work Programme.
Recalling their particular economic conditions, the submission stresses that the development dimension should be at the centre of the negotiation. Emphasis is placed on the importance of Special and Differential Treatment (SDT), including enhanced flexibilities and market access on all elements of Agriculture, NAMA and Services. It states that any flexibilities captured for SVEs are the basis of any future work.
“The level of ambition in Agriculture is central to the Round. Progress should be made across all negotiating areas in the Post-Bali Work Programme,” specifies the submission, a copy of which has been seen by Bridges Africa.
With respect to fisheries subsidies, the document calls for additional flexibilities regarding the proposed exemptions to the prohibited subsidies. SVEs rely heavily on fishing for their economic livelihood and the concern is that would suffer greatly if forced to comply with the same subsidy policies as industrial fisheries.
In addition, it stresses that basic principles such as a bottom-up, Member-driven, and less than full reciprocal approach should underpin the negotiation process.
The submission comes ahead of the July 2015 deadline for agreeing on the Programme on the remaining Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues as mandated by the Bali Declaration. A number of other countries, including the ACP group of countries, submitted their proposals earlier this year. (See Bridges Africa, 23 March 2015).
The genesis of the development interests and concerns of SVEs in the WTO can be traced back to 2001 when Members agreed in the Doha Ministerial Declaration to a work programme identifying the “trade-related issues for the fuller integration of small, vulnerable economies into the multilateral trading system”. The proposals, decisions and reports made since the start of the Work Programme are compiled in document WT/COMTD/SE/W/22/Rev.6, issued in September 2011.
SVEs are those WTO members that account for only a small fraction of world trade. While no official sub-category exist for SVEs at the WTO, WTO members recognise that they are particularly vulnerable to economic uncertainties and environmental shocks.