GENEVA (Reuters) - Countries are divided over the scope of a meeting of ministers to be held around Easter to kick-start the long-running Doha round of trade talks.
Some of the 151 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) believe the meeting should be restricted to the core sectors of agriculture and industry.
Others believe it should include other areas, such as the services sector or rules for dealing with unfairly priced imports.
Here is how some countries stand on the issue.
- Developing countries not taking part in the discussions on opening up services, including many African nations and Cuba, believe there is no need for a further text on services to be agreed at the Easter meeting. They say an outline deal on services already exists in “Annex C” of the Hong Kong ministerial declaration of 2005. Further work can be done by interested countries working bilaterally or in groups.
- Some developing countries like India and China have a big interest in seeing progress in one area of services — liberalisation of the movement of labour for people to travel to fulfil contracts, known as “Mode 4”.
- India also wants a discussion of services at the Easter meeting because of its big IT, business process and outsourcing sectors
- With services accounting for 70 percent or more of GDP in developed countries, the United States, European Union, Japan and Hong Kong want services to be addressed
- But the United States, like South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, is wary of overloading the meeting.
- Besides services, the European Union wants to discuss “geographical indicators” a form of copyright for food products that already applies to wine and spirits, decreeing for instance that only sparkling wine from the Champagne area of France can be called Champagne. Brussels wants to extend this to food, so that Parma ham would be limited to ham from that region of Italy, and so on.
- Norway, Korea, Japan and India are all keen to discuss trading rules, including a controversial method of calculating anti-dumping duties called “zeroing”. This is used by the United States but opposed by everyone else and would be allowed in a deal according to the current negotiating text for trade rules.
- African producers of cotton, represented by Lesotho and Chad, who are pushing for big cuts in U.S. subsidies for cotton, want that subject discussed