SA wants development goal to top agenda at WTO meetingPosted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Lazenby, Henry (Engineering News Online, Johannesburg) in News
South Africa will urge member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) not to hijack the development goals of the Doha round at the upcoming Ministerial conference in Geneva, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Monday.
Davies said there was consensus among developing nations in Africa, as well among Brazil, Russia, India and China, that the development agenda as agreed on during the 2001 Doha meeting, must not be compromised in favour of developed countries’ interests.
“Developed countries, in particular the US and some European countries, have produced a narrative outlining the intention to place issues such as renewable energy, climate change and trade agreements on the agenda, instead of the development commitments previously agreed to and the implementation thereof, which we believe should top the agenda,” Davies said at a media briefing.
He added that it was imperative that the Doha mandate guides the Ministerial conference, which will take place from December 15 to 17.
The Doha round contemplated the establishment of development packages for the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), but this had not been implemented. Developed countries should further, not seek to draw benefits from aid being dispensed to the LDCs, which adds to the ineffectiveness of implementing the Doha imperatives.
“Talks about the Doha development agenda had reached an impasse since July 2008, when discussions about the failure to implement the development agenda were deferred,” South Africa’s permanent ambassador to the WTO Faizel Ismail said.
The developed countries believe that developing countries should contribute more to the developmental goals of the WTO, as some grew at a faster rate than the developed countries in the current sluggish global economic environment.
“The new narrative coming from the developed countries wants to abandon the Doha development agenda and shy away from critically important issues about implementing further trade concessions and cutting back on agricultural subsidies, which we believe are critical to contribute to growth.
“We are disturbed by these countries wanting to move away from the development imperatives and substitute this with issues that are of more interest to them,” Ismail said.
Davies said that the next round of discussions would seek a way to break the impasse.