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Revisions Offered on Industrial Goods

Revised offers from the chairman of the Doha Round industrial goods talks aimed at lowering duties on manufactured goods that were circulated Monday appear...

GENEVA — Revised offers from the chairman of the Doha Round industrial goods talks aimed at lowering duties on manufactured goods that were circulated Monday appear to favor emerging nations.

This story first appeared in the May 20, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The text of the new plan, a copy of which was obtained by WWD, gives developing nations options to limit new market access commitments but provides for deeper cuts from rich nations like the U.S. and those in the European Union, Western diplomatic sources said. However, the new plan drafted by Canadian chairman Don Stephenson has more possibilities for emerging developing nations such as Brazil, India, Indonesia and Pakistan to have more products subject to smaller tariff cuts.

U.S. and European Union exporter groups, including textiles and apparel, auto and other manufacturers, fear that emerging countries will use the flexibilities to shield sectors that offer potential new market opportunities.

Diplomatic sources said it seems a trade-off between rich and emerging nations is in the making, with developing countries insisting on smaller cuts on industrial goods to counter what they view as a less ambitious offer by rich nations in slashing their farm subsidies and tariffs. The sources said it remains to be seen whether Washington or Brussels can politically sell a package that has such a wide range of carve-outs for industrial goods for emerging nations.

“The U.S. is committed to concluding a successful Doha Round this year that achieves new market access for agricultural and industrial products and services in both developed and emerging market economies,” said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative. “We are prepared to make the tough political choices necessary to conclude an agreement, as others will need to do as well. Specifically, we will be looking to see how the world’s largest and fastest growing economies are going to make market-opening contributions commensurate with their increasing participation and role in the world economy.”

In the new blueprint on agriculture also circulated on Monday to WTO members by New Zealand chairman Crawford Falconer, no changes were put forward on the segment concerning cotton. The draft on the table calls for U.S. domestic cotton subsidies to be slashed by at least 82 percent. The U.S. has rejected the suggested cuts but has not presented a counter offer and is under pressure from the domestic cotton industry not to make radical concessions.

 

Both the industrial and agriculture blueprints are subject to further changes. This can only happen when ministers gather to try and hammer a breakthrough deal probably in June or July.