WTO, Vietnam discuss agriculture

A group of advisors from the WTO Secretariat recently held a working session in Geneva with the Vietnamese delegation to the UNDP, WTO and other international organizations.

The session was focused on agriculture NAMA (Non-Agricultural Market Access), negotiations as well as regulations related to trade and services.

Head of the Vietnamese delegation, Ambassador Nguyen Trung Thanh, expressed concern over the stagnation of the Doha round, as the WTO is striving to negotiate the principles of a multilateral agreement on services.

Legal advisor to the WTO Market Access Division, Ms Suja Rishikesh Mavroidis, said that the goodwill of WTO member nations is an important factor in the success of the negotiations. Almost all the negotiators have been active in trying to reach a consensus in certain areas.

Suja said it is important for Vietnam, as a developing nation, to understand its position in all negotiations, including those in agriculture non-agricultural fields and services, and it must be fully aware of its commitments to reduce tariffs.

At the working session, the Vietnamese side also paid special attention to the report by Marie – Bel Martinez-Hommel, who is in charge of economic affairs on the Goods and Agriculture Committee. The report affirms that agricultural negotiations will focus on opening markets, export subsidy and domestic subsidy. These are very sensitive issues for all WTO members  so the negotiations are progressing slowly, which affects other negotiations such as those for services and opening non-agricultural markets.

Regarding subsidies for Thai rice, Marie said that the Thai government's purchasing and stockpiling of rice poses a threat to the Vietnamese rice market if Thailand implements an anti-dumping policy.

Services and other topics were also discussed during the session, but the WTO Secretariat working group affirmed that the US, EU, Japan and Singapore are the only parties that have been active in accelerating negotiations.