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Trade Policy Roundtable

Post Mortem on the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong

JUST weeks before the ministerial conference in Hong Kong, the WTO director-general, Pascal Lamy, was obliged to start dampening expectations of what could be achieved at the sixth session of the WTO’s highest decision-making body.  Negotiators seemed to be as far away as ever from settling modalities for negotiations on agriculture, industrial products and services.  Attention accordingly turned to securing agreement on an aid-for-trade package aimed at getting the least-developed countries – accounting for less than 1 percent of world trade – to be more supportive of the Doha Round negotiations.

The fact remains though that everything still depends on securing an agreement to actually liberalize agricultural trade, which has already been postponed for four decades, some say longer.  Indeed, from the outset of the Doha Round negotiations, it was thoroughly understood in Geneva that making progress on agriculture would be a prerequisite for making progress on industrial products and services. 

Agricultural-exporting countries, organized in the Cairns Group coalition, have learnt from experience that “being reasonable”, letting negotiations proceed on other items on the agenda when little was happening on agriculture, simply doesn’t pay.  In the last two GATT rounds, agriculture was either taken off the negotiating table, as happened in the Tokyo Round negotiations, or the negotiations were prolonged until time and patience ran out, as happened in the Uruguay Round negotiations.    

Even so, the developing countries are expected to reciprocate, although not necessarily fully, in the negotiations by opening their markets to industrial products and services from both developed and developing countries.  But the European Union’s market-access offer on agriculture, averaging 40-45 percent from “bound” tariff levels, falls far short of what is required, according to the World Bank, to create new trade opportunities.

To review the outcome of the Hong Kong ministerial conference, the Institute will hold on Tuesday, January 10, 2006, a half-day seminar which will focus on the agriculture and development dimensions of the Doha Round negotiations.

Robert L. Thompson, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has spoken at several previous Trade Policy Roundtable meetings, will deal with the agriculture dimension.  Carlos Braga, the World Bank’s senior economic adviser in Geneva, will then deal with the development dimension.

DRAFT PROGRAM

CHAIRMAN     Richard O. Cunningham – Senior International Law Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, attorneys-at-law, Washington, DC, and author of Trade Policies and Strategies (2005)

09:30-10:00  State of the Doha Round Negotiations after Hong Kong

SPEAKER        Hugh Corbet – President, Cordell Hull Institute, Washington, DC; former Director of the Trade Policy Research Centre, London 

10:00-11:00  Agriculture Dimension of the Doha Round Negotiations

SPEAKER        Robert L. Thompson – Gardner Professor of Agriculrural Policy, University of Urbana-Champaign, IL, and Chairman, International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council, Washington, DC

DISCUSSANT  Gary N. Horlick  Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr, attorneys-at-law, and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC,

11:00-11:30  Refreshments

11:30-12:30  Development Dimension of the Doha Round Negotiations    

SPEAKER        Carlos A. Primo Braga – Senior Economic Adviser (in Geneva), International Trade Department, World Bank; previously director of the Bank’s informatics program

DISCUSSANT  Richard Self Principal Associate, Nathan Associates, development consultants, Arlington, VA; former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Services

12:30-13:15  Buffet luncheon

13:15-14:00  What are the Options for the WTO Negotiations Now?

                   SPEAKER        To be advised

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

HUGH CORBET, President of the Cordell Hull Institute, was previously at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Brookings Institution (1990-92), then at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, George Washington University (1992-97). Earlier he was the director of the Trade Policy Research Centre, London (1968-89), and editor of The World Economy, Oxford and Boston (1977-90).  At the TPRC he convened, in 1982-88, eight international roundtable meetings of trade ministers, senior officials, business leaders and independent experts.

RICHARD O. CUNNINGHAM, senior international trade partner at Steptoe & Johnson, attorneys-at-law, Washington, DC, and the author of Trade Policies and Strategies (2005), has been active in dispute-settlement cases and advising companies, governments and Congressional committees on WTO and NAFTA issues.  Mr Cunningham has chaired many trade-related committees of the American Bar Association, including the Standing Committee on Customs Law and the task force on international trade and competition laws.

GARY N. HORLICK, Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr, attorneys-at-law, and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC; and member, WTO  Group of Experts on Subsidies, Geneva.

CARLOS A. PRIMA BRAGA has been, since October 2003, Senior Economic Adviser in Europe, International Trade Department, World Bank, based in Geneva, and represents the Bank in dealings with the WTO, the OECD, the European Commission and UNCTAD. Dr Braga was earlier director of the World Bank’s informatics department (2001-2003).  On joining the Bank in 1991, he was engaged on studies on trade in services, intellectual property rights, regional integration agreements and trade and the environment.

RICHARD SELF is a Principal Associate at Nathan Associates Inc., development consultants, Arlington, VA.  A long-time official, beginning bin the Department of the Treasury, he was closely associated with getting trade in services on the OECD and then the GATT agenda, eventually becoming Deputy Assistant USTR for services before being posted to Geneva during the Uruguay Round negotiations, where he was involved in securing the General Agreement on Trade in Services.

ROBERT L. THOMPSON recently became Gardner Professor of Agricultural Policy at the University of Illinois, having earlier been Director of Agriculture and Rural Development at the World Bank (1999-2002).  Since 2002 he has been Chairman of the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council, Washington, DC.  In 1985-87, Dr Thompson was Assistant Secretary for Economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he was engaged in preparations for the Uruguay Round negotiations of 1986-94.

 

 

 

The Cordell Hull Institute’s Trade Policy Roundtable is sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Arnold & Porter, Hogan & Hartson, Miller & Chevalier, O’Melveny & Myers, Sidley Austin Brown &  Wood, Steptoe & Johnson and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr