Advancing ‘small package’ outcome at Bali trade gathering
U.S. trade officials are stepping up the pressure on members of the World Trade Organization to advance a “small package” outcome at the upcoming 9th Ministerial Meeting at Bali, Indonesia in December.
“At the most recent meeting of the WTO’s Trade Negotiating Committee on April 11, the United States asked that every delegation engage in immediate, intensive consultations with its capital to convey the seriousness of the situation in Geneva with regard to negotiations for a ‘small package’ outcome,” said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Michael Punke in a statement Tuesday.
“We said then that, absent a course correction, the current path of talks would lead directly to failure at Bali. And if Bali fails, it is hard to imagine how Doha can succeed,” he warned.
“The aim of our request was to prod the Bali negotiations past the current impasse, and put us on pace with shared forward momentum to advance the text. To serve that goal, in today’s meetings of senior officials the United States is not restating our redlines for the Bali talks, which are as well-known as the redlines of others,” Plunke added. “Nor will we criticize the quality or seek to dictate the form of others’ flexibilities. We are confident that credible efforts, big or small, will be appreciated by those sincerely interested in progress.
“No single delegation can solve all of the problems of the trade facilitation negotiations, bridging gaps and ensuring a meaningful agreement in the end. But the United States has done what it asked others to do,” he said. “Over the last weeks, we have identified three key areas for additional U.S. flexibility: two on which the U.S. has been a proponent; a third in response to a request from certain developing countries, as reflected in their proposals.”
These areas include additional flexibility in advance rulings and penalties involving trade facilitation; the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group’s Early Warning Mechanism; and enhancement of food security in developing countries.
“The past two weeks have been, in our view, some of the most important in the contemporary life of this organization,” Plunke said. “Members have been called to decide whether we will balance our individual priorities with the advancement of the global trade framework that serves us all. Members have been called to decide whether to contribute to positive outcomes or to stand in the way of any outcome at all.
“We are hopeful that today will show clearly a choice to work cooperatively toward a successful outcome at Bali that will secure new benefits from trade liberalization, and that will ultimately serve all members through the revitalization of the WTO’s negotiating function,” he said.
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