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Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration: NAMA Provisions
This declaration was reached at the ministerial conference of WTO, held at Hong Kong in 2005.

 

 


 

See also the declarations of other ministerial conferences:

There was no ministerial conference held in 2007, and there were no ministerial declarations issued at the Geneva conferences of 2009 and 2011.

See also the CENTRAL guides to WTO Agreements and Institutions and Rules.

 

 

 

 

 


WT/MIN(05)/DEC
 

MINISTERIAL DECLARATION

 

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NAMA Negotiations

13.  We reaffirm our commitment to the mandate for negotiations on market access for non-agricultural products as set out in paragraph 16 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration. We also reaffirm all the elements of the NAMA Framework adopted by the General Council on 1 August 2004. We take note of the report by the Chairman of the Negotiating Group on Market Access on his own responsibility (TN/MA/16, contained in Annex B). We welcome the progress made by the Negotiating Group on Market Access since 2004 and recorded therein.

14.  We adopt a Swiss Formula with coefficients at levels which shall inter alia:

-  Reduce or as appropriate eliminate tariffs, including the reduction or elimination of tariff peaks, high tariffs and tariff escalation, in particular on products of export interest to developing countries;  and

-  Take fully into account the special needs and interests of developing countries, including through less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments.

We instruct the Negotiating Group to finalize its structure and details as soon as possible.

15.  We reaffirm the importance of special and differential treatment and less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments, including paragraph 8 of the NAMA Framework, as integral parts of the modalities. We instruct the Negotiating Group to finalize its details as soon as possible.

16.  In furtherance of paragraph 7 of the NAMA Framework, we recognize that Members are pursuing sectoral initiatives. To this end, we instruct the Negotiating Group to review proposals with a view to identifying those which could garner sufficient participation to be realized. Participation should be on a non-mandatory basis.

17.  For the purpose of the second indent of paragraph 5 of the NAMA Framework, we adopt a non-linear mark-up approach to establish base rates for commencing tariff reductions. We instruct the Negotiating Group to finalize its details as soon as possible.

18.  We take note of the progress made to convert non ad valorem duties to ad valorem equivalents on the basis of an agreed methodology as contained in JOB(05)/166/Rev.1.

19.  We take note of the level of common understanding reached on the issue of product coverage and direct the Negotiating Group to resolve differences on the limited issues that remain as quickly as possible.

20.  As a supplement to paragraph 16 of the NAMA Framework, we recognize the challenges that may be faced by non-reciprocal preference beneficiary Members as a consequence of the MFN liberalization that will result from these negotiations. We instruct the Negotiating Group to intensify work on the assessment of the scope of the problem with a view to finding possible solutions.

21.  We note the concerns raised by small, vulnerable economies, and instruct the Negotiating Group to establish ways to provide flexibilities for these Members without creating a sub-category of WTO Members.

22.  We note that the Negotiating Group has made progress in the identification, categorization and examination of notified NTBs. We also take note that Members are developing bilateral, vertical and horizontal approaches to the NTB negotiations, and that some of the NTBs are being addressed in other fora including other Negotiating Groups. We recognize the need for specific negotiating proposals and encourage participants to make such submissions as quickly as possible.

23.  However, we recognize that much remains to be done in order to establish modalities and to conclude the negotiations. Therefore, we agree to intensify work on all outstanding issues to fulfil the Doha objectives, in particular, we are resolved to establish modalities no later than 30 April 2006 and to submit comprehensive draft Schedules based on these modalities no later than 31 July 2006.

Balance between Agriculture and NAMA

24.  We recognize that it is important to advance the development objectives of this Round through enhanced market access for developing countries in both Agriculture and NAMA. To that end, we instruct our negotiators to ensure that there is a comparably high level of ambition in market access for Agriculture and NAMA. This ambition is to be achieved in a balanced and proportionate manner consistent with the principle of special and differential treatment.

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Annex B 

Market Access for Non-Agricultural Products

 

Report by the Chairman of the Negotiating Group on Market Access to the TNC

 

A.     Introduction

1.   A Chairman's commentary of the state of play of the NAMA negotiations was prepared in July 2005 and circulated in document JOB(05)/147 and Add.1 (hereinafter referred to as the "Chairman's commentary"). The current report, made on my responsibility, reflects the state of play of the NAMA negotiations at this juncture of the Doha Development Agenda, and supplements that commentary.

2.   With an eye on the forthcoming Ministerial, Section B of this report attempts to highlight those areas of convergence and divergence on the elements of Annex B of Decision adopted by the General Council on 1 August 2004, (hereinafter referred to as the “NAMA framework”), and to provide some guidance as to what may be a possible future course of action with respect to some of the elements. Section C of the report provides some final remarks about possible action by Ministers at Hong Kong.

3.   In preparing this report, use has been made of documents provided by Members (as listed in TN/MA/S/16/Rev.2) as well as the discussions in the open-ended sessions of the Group, plurilateral meetings and bilateral contacts, as long as they were not in the nature of confessionals.

B.     summary of the state of play

4.   Full modalities must have detailed language and, where required, final numbers on all elements of the NAMA framework. Such an agreement should also contain a detailed work plan concerning the process after the establishment of full modalities for the purpose of the submission, verification and annexation of Doha Schedules to a legal instrument. While acknowledging that progress has been made since the adoption of the NAMA framework, the establishment of full modalities is, at present, a difficult prospect given the lack of agreement on a number of elements in the NAMA framework including the formula, paragraph 8 flexibilities and unbound tariffs.

5.   Regarding the structure of this section, generally Members recognize that the issues identified in the preceding paragraph are the three elements of the NAMA framework on which solutions are required as a matter of priority, and that there is a need to address them in an interlinked fashion. So, this report will commence with these three subjects before moving on to the other elements of the NAMA framework in the order in which they are presented therein.

 

Formula (paragraph 4 of the NAMA framework)

6.   On the non-linear formula, there has been movement since the adoption of the NAMA framework. There is a more common understanding of the shape of the formula that Members are willing to adopt in these negotiations. In fact, Members have been focusing on a Swiss formula. During the past few months, much time and effort has been spent examining the impact of such a formula from both a defensive and offensive angle. In terms of the specifics of that formula, there are basically two variations on the table: a formula with a limited number of negotiated coefficients and a formula where the value of each country's coefficient would be based essentially on the tariff average of bound rates of that Member, resulting in multiple coefficients.

7.   In order to move beyond a debate on the merits of the two options (and in recognition of the fact that what matters in the final analysis is the level of the coefficient) more recently Members have engaged in a discussion of numbers. Such a debate has been particularly helpful, especially as it demonstrated in a quantifiable manner to what extent the benchmarks established in paragraph 16 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration would be achieved. While it is evident that one of the characteristics of such a formula is to address tariff peaks, tariff escalation and high tariffs (as it brings down high tariffs more than low tariffs), one benchmark which has been the subject of differences of opinion has been that of "less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments" and how it should be measured. Some developing Members are of the view that this means less than average percentage cuts i.e. as translated through a higher coefficient in the formula, than those undertaken by developed country Members. However, the latter have indicated that there are other measurements of less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments including the final rates after the formula cut which in their markets would be less than in developing country markets. Also, in their view, such a measurement of less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments has to take into account not only the additional effort made by them in all areas but also of paragraph 8 flexibilities and the fact that several developing Members and the LDCs would be exempt from formula cuts.

8.   Other objectives put forward by developed Members and some developing Members as being part of the Doha NAMA mandate are: harmonization of tariffs between Members; cuts into applied rates; and improvement of South-South trade. However, these objectives have been challenged by other developing Members who believe that, on the contrary, they are not part of that mandate.

9.   During the informal discussions, many Members engaged in an exchange on the basis of an approach with two coefficients. In the context of such debates, the coefficients which were mentioned for developed Members fell generally within the range of 5 to 10, and for developing Members within the range of 15 to 30, although some developing Members did propose lower coefficients for developed Members and higher coefficients for developing Members. In addition, a developing country coefficient of 10 was also put forward by some developed Members. However, while this discussion of numbers is a positive development, the inescapable reality is that the range of coefficients is wide and reflects the divergence that exists as to Members’ expectations regarding the contributions that their trading partners should be making.

Flexibilities for developing Members subject to a formula (paragraph 8 of the NAMA framework)

10.  A central issue concerning the paragraph 8 flexibilities has been the question of linkage or non-linkage between these flexibilities and the coefficient in the formula. A view was expressed that the flexibilities currently provided for in paragraph 8 are equivalent to 4-5 additional points to the coefficient in the formula, and as a result there was need to take this aspect into account in the developing country coefficient. In response, the argument has been made by many developing Members that those flexibilities are a stand alone provision as reflected in the language of that provision, and should not be linked to the coefficient. Otherwise, this would amount to re-opening the NAMA framework. Some of those Members have also expressed the view that the numbers currently within square brackets are the minimum required for their sensitive tariff lines, and have expressed concern about the conditions attached to the use of such flexibilities, such as the capping of the import value. In response, the point has been made by developed Members that they are not seeking to remove the flexibilities under paragraph 8, and therefore are not re-opening the NAMA framework. They further point out that the numbers in paragraph 8 are within square brackets precisely to reflect the fact that they are not fixed and may need to be adjusted downwards depending on the level of the coefficient.  In addition, the need for more transparency and predictability with regard to the tariff lines which would be covered by paragraph 8 flexibilities has been raised by some of these Members. Some developing Members have also advanced the idea that there should be the option for those developing Members not wanting to use paragraph 8 flexibilities to have recourse to a higher coefficient in the formula in the interest of having a balanced outcome.

Unbound Tariff Lines (paragraph 5, indent two of the NAMA framework)

11.  There has been progress on the discussion of unbound tariff lines. There is an understanding that full bindings would be a desirable objective of the NAMA negotiations, and a growing sense that unbound tariff lines should be subject to formula cuts provided there is a pragmatic solution for those lines with low applied rates. However, some Members have stressed that their unbound tariff lines with high applied rates are also sensitive and due consideration should be given to those lines. There now appears to be a willingness among several Members to move forward on the basis of a non-linear mark-up approach to establish base rates, and in the case of some of these Members, provided that such an approach yields an equitable result.  A non-linear mark-up approach envisages the addition of a certain number of percentage points to the applied rate of the unbound tariff line in order to establish the base rate on which the formula is to be applied. There are two variations of such an approach. In one case, a constant number of percentage points are added to the applied rate in order to establish the base rate. The other variation consists of having a different number of percentage points depending on the level of the applied rate. In other words, the lower the applied rate the higher the mark-up and the higher the applied rate, the lower the mark-up. There is also one proposal on the table of a target average approach where an average is established through the use of a formula, with the unbound tariff lines expected to have final bindings around that average.

12.  On a practical level, in their discussions on unbound tariff lines, Members have been referring mostly to the constant mark-up methodology to establish base rates. In the context of such discussions, the number for the mark-up has ranged from 5 to 30 percentage points. Once again the gap between the two figures is wide, but Members have displayed willingness to be flexible.

Other elements of the formula (paragraph 5 of the NAMA framework)

13.  Concerning product coverage (indent 1), Members have made good progress to establish a list of non-agricultural products as reflected in document JOB(05)/226/Rev.2. The main issue is whether the outcome of this exercise should be an agreed list or guidelines. It would appear that several Members are in favour of the former outcome, however, some have expressed their preference for the latter. In any event, there are only a limited number of items (17) on which differences exist and Members should try and resolve these differences as quickly as possible.

14.  On ad valorem equivalents (indent 5), agreement was reached to convert non ad valorem duties to ad valorem equivalents on the basis of the methodology contained in JOB(05)/166/Rev.1 and to bind them in ad valorem terms. To date, four Members have submitted their preliminary AVE calculations, but there are many more due. Those Members would need to submit this information as quickly as possible so as to allow sufficient time for the multilateral verification process.

15.  The subject of how credit is to be given for autonomous liberalization (indent 4) by developing countries provided that the tariff lines are bound on an MFN basis in the WTO since the conclusion of the Uruguay Round has not been discussed in detail since the adoption of the NAMA framework. However, this issue may be more usefully taken up once there is a clearer picture of the formula.

16.  All the other elements of the formula such as tariff cuts commencing from bound rates after full implementation of current commitments (indent 2), the base year (indent 3), the nomenclature (indent 6) and reference period for import data (indent 7) have not been discussed any further since July 2004, as they were acceptable to Members as currently reflected in the NAMA framework.

Other flexibilities for developing Members

Members with low binding coverage (paragraph 6 of the NAMA framework)

17.  A submission by a group of developing Members, covered under paragraph 6 provisions, was made in June 2005. The paper proposed that Members falling under this paragraph should be encouraged to substantially increase their binding coverage, and bind tariff lines at a level consistent with their individual development, trade, fiscal and strategic needs. A preliminary discussion of this proposal revealed that there were concerns about this proposal re-opening this paragraph by seeking to enhance the flexibilities contained therein. Further discussion of this proposal is required. However, it appears that the issue of concern to some of the paragraph 6 Members is not related so much to the full binding coverage, but rather to the average level at which these Members would be required to bind their tariffs.

Flexibilities for LDCs (paragraph 9 of the NAMA framework)

18.  There appears to be a common understanding that LDCs will be the judge of the extent and level of the bindings that they make. At the same time, Members have indicated that this substantial increase of the binding commitments which LDCs are expected to undertake should be done with a good faith effort.  In this regard, some yardsticks for this effort were mentioned including the coverage and level of bindings made in the Uruguay Round by other LDCs as well as the more recently acceded LDCs.

Small, vulnerable economies

19.  A paper was submitted recently by a group of Members which proposes inter alia lesser and linear cuts to Members identified by a criterion using trade share. While some developing and developed Members were sympathetic to the situation of such Members, concerns were expressed with respect to the threshold used to establish eligibility, and also the treatment envisaged. Other developing Members expressed serious reservations about this proposal which in their view appeared to be creating a new category of developing Members, and to be further diluting the ambition of the NAMA negotiations. The sponsors of this proposal stressed that the small, vulnerable economies had characteristics which warranted special treatment.

20.  This is an issue on which there is a serious divergence of opinion among developing Members. This subject will need to be debated further. Discussions may be facilitated through additional statistical analysis.

Sectorals (paragraph 7 of the NAMA framework)

21.  It appears that good progress is being made on the sectoral tariff component of the NAMA negotiations. Work which is taking place in an informal Member-driven process has focused on inter alia identification of sectors, product coverage, participation, end rates and adequate provisions of flexibilities for developing countries. Besides the sectorals based on a critical mass approach identified in the Chairman's commentary – bicycles, chemicals, electronics/electrical equipment, fish, footwear, forest products, gems and jewellery, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, raw materials and sporting goods – I understand that work is ongoing on other sectors namely apparel, auto/auto parts and textiles.

22.  While this component of the NAMA negotiations is recognized in the NAMA framework to be a key element to delivering on the objectives of paragraph 16 of the Doha NAMA mandate, some developing Members have questioned the rationale of engaging in sectoral negotiations before having the formula finalized. Many have also re-iterated their view that sectorals are voluntary in nature. The point has also been made by other developing Members that sectorals harm smaller developing Members due to an erosion of their preferences. However, the proponents of such initiatives have argued that sectorals are another key element of the NAMA negotiations and an important modality for delivering on the elimination of duties as mandated in paragraph 16 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration. In addition, they have pointed out that some of the sectorals were initiated by developing Members. Moreover, such initiatives require substantive work and were time-consuming to prepare. Concerning preference erosion, this was a cross-cutting issue.

23.  Members will need to begin considering time-lines for the finalization of such work, and the submission of the outcomes which will be applied on an MFN basis.

Market Access for LDCs (paragraph 10 of the NAMA framework)

24.  In the discussions on this subject, it was noted that the Committee on Trade and Development in Special Session is examining the question of duty-free and quota-free access for non-agricultural products originating from LDCs. Consequently, there is recognition by Members that the discussions in that Committee would most probably have an impact on this element of the NAMA framework, and would need to be factored in at the appropriate time.

Newly Acceded Members (paragraph 11 of the NAMA framework)

25.  Members recognize the extensive market access commitments made by the NAMs at the time of their accession. From the discussions held on this subject, it was clarified that those NAMs which are developing Members have access to paragraph 8 flexibilities. As special provisions for tariff reductions for the NAMs, some Members are willing to consider longer implementation periods than those to be provided to developing Members. Other proposals such as a higher coefficient and "grace periods" for the NAMs were also put forward, but a number of Members have objected to these ideas. There has also been a submission by four low-income economies in transition who have requested to be exempt from formula cuts in light of their substantive contributions at the time of their WTO accession and the current difficult state of their economies. While some Members showed sympathy for the situation of these Members, they expressed the view that other solutions may be more appropriate. Some developing Members also expressed concern about this proposal creating a differentiation between Members. Further discussion is required on these issues.

NTBs (paragraph 14 of the NAMA framework)

26.  Since adoption of the July 2004 framework, Members have been focusing their attention on non-tariff barriers in recognition of the fact that they are an integral and equally important part of the NAMA negotiations. Some Members claim that they constitute a greater barrier to their exports than tariffs. The Group has spent a considerable amount of time identifying, categorizing and examining the notified NTBs. Members are using bilateral, vertical and horizontal approaches to the NTB negotiations. For example, many Members are raising issues bilaterally with their trading partners. Vertical initiatives are ongoing on automobiles, electronic products and wood products. There have been some proposals of a horizontal nature concerning export taxes, export restrictions and remanufactured products. On export taxes, some Members have expressed the view that such measures fall outside the mandate of the NAMA negotiations. Some Members have also raised in other Negotiating Groups some of the NTBs they had notified initially in the context of the NAMA negotiations. For example, a number of trade facilitation measures are now being examined in the Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation. Some other Members have also indicated their intention to bring issues to the regular WTO Committees. NTBs currently proposed for negotiation in the NAMA Group are contained in document JOB(05)/85/Rev.3.

27.  Some proposals have been made of a procedural nature in order to expedite the NTB work, including a suggestion to hold dedicated NTB sessions. Further consideration will need to be given to this and other proposals. Members will also need to begin considering some time-lines for the submission of specific negotiating proposals and NTB outcomes.

Appropriate Studies and Capacity Building Measures (paragraph 15 of the NAMA framework)

28.  There has been no discussion as such on this element as it is an ongoing and integral part of the negotiating process. Several papers have been prepared by the Secretariat during the course of the negotiations and capacity building activities by the Secretariat have increased considerably since the launch of the Doha Development Agenda. Such activities will need to continue taking into account the evolution of the negotiations.

Non-reciprocal preferences (paragraph 16 of the NAMA framework)

29.  In response to calls by some Members for a better idea of the scope of the problem, the ACP Group circulated an indicative list of products (170 HS 6-digit tariff lines) vulnerable to preference erosion in the EC and US markets as identified through a vulnerability index. Simulations were also submitted by the African Group. Some developing Members expressed concern that the tariff lines listed covered the majority of their exports, or covered critical exports to those markets and were also precisely the lines on which they sought MFN cuts. As a result, for these Members, it was impossible to entertain any solution which related to less than full formula cuts or longer staging. In this regard, concern was expressed by them that non-trade solutions were not being examined. For the proponents of the issue, a trade solution was necessary as this was a trade problem. According to them, their proposal would not undermine trade liberalization because they were seeking to manage such liberalization on a limited number of products.

30.  This subject is highly divisive precisely because the interests of the two groups of developing Members are in direct conflict. Additionally, it is a cross-cutting issue which makes it even more sensitive. While, the aforementioned list of products has been helpful in providing a sense of the scope of the problem and may help Members to engage in a more focused discussion, it is clear that pragmatism will need to be shown by all concerned.

Environmental Goods (paragraph 17 of the NAMA framework)

31.  Since the adoption of the July framework in 2004, limited discussions have been held on this subject in the Group. However, it is noted that much work under paragraph 31(iii) of the Doha Ministerial Declaration has been undertaken by the Committee on Trade and Environment in Special Session. There would need to be close coordination between the two negotiating groups and a stock taking of the work undertaken in that Committee would be required at the appropriate time by the NAMA Negotiating Group.

Other elements of the NAMA framework

32.  On the other elements of the NAMA framework, such as supplementary modalities (paragraph 12), elimination of low duties (paragraph 13) and tariff revenue dependency (paragraph 16) the Group has not had a substantive debate. This has in part to do with the nature of the issue or because more information is required from the proponents. Regarding supplementary modalities, such modalities will become more relevant once the formula has been finalized. On elimination of low duties, this issue may be more suitable to consider once there is a better sense of the likely outcome of the NAMA negotiations. On tariff revenue dependency, more clarity is required from the proponents on the nature and scope of the problem.

C.     Final remarks

33.  As may be observed from the above report, Members are far away from achieving full modalities. This is highly troubling. It will take a major effort by all if the objective of concluding the NAMA negotiations by the end of 2006 is to be realized.

34.  To this end, I would highlight as a critical objective for Hong Kong a common understanding on the formula, paragraph 8 flexibilities and unbound tariffs. It is crucial that Ministers move decisively on these elements so that the overall outcome is acceptable to all. This will give the necessary impetus to try and fulfil at a date soon thereafter the objective of full modalities for the NAMA negotiations.

35.  Specifically, Ministers should:

·      Obtain agreement on the final structure of the formula and narrow the range of numbers

·      Resolve their basic differences over paragraph 8 flexibilities

·      Clarify whether the constant mark-up approach is the way forward, and if so, narrow the range of numbers.

 

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