WTO’s Nairobi MC may hit by trade conflicts

The upcoming Nairobi Ministerial Conference (MC) of the WTO may not produce any substantial achievements given the trends of pre-MC meetings.

Usually preparatory discussions are conducted by members. There are groups within WTO just like-minded formations on each issue. Current trends on trade discussions before the Nairobi MC show that agricultural trade liberalization continues to be the prime area of conflict.

There are several pressure groups in agricultural trade. The G33, Cairns Group, EU and the USA are the leading ones.

Reports indicate that the G33, including India has come with a hard stand on the use of Special Safeguard Duties. G33, which is also called   “Friends of Special Products” in agriculture, is a pressure group comprised of 48 developing countries.  Developing country members of this group is generally defensive on agricultural trade and prefers to protect their agricultural sector from low priced imports.

The group’s pre-Nairobi demand is strengthening of special safeguard mechanism that gives members to design a negative list of items where imports are not permissible.

Australia is the leader of the Cairns group that supports agricultural export countries’ interest. Main demand of Australia is that the US and others should end export subsidies.

India’s demand for permanent solution of the food procurement subsidies may add to stalemate at Nairobi also. The G33 has demanded food security procurement should be exempted from reduction commitments.

The 162 members of WTO are scheduled to conduct he tenth MC at Nairobi- capital of Kenya which is a developing country. Members are meeting at a time when Regional Trade Blocs like the TPP are stealing the lime light of trade engagements and WTO is completing nearly 25 years of its existence.