Martin Khor on the WTO ‘peace clause’

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inhuman rights coverYesterday, Professor Bereano (University of Washington) sent an article by Martin Khor, of the Third World Network.

Mr Khor was one of the publishers of Winin Pereira’s ‘Inhuman Rights’ – downloadable here.

’Global Trends’ was published in The Star (Malaysia) Monday 16 Dec 2013:

WTO makes a small deal

Khor asserts that the WTO Bali meeting ended with a small deal, with very modest results and imbalances in gains and losses. It was mainly conducted behind closed doors, with the Director General Roberto Azevedo holding meetings issue by issue with a few countries. He continues:

”Participants were given the final draft only a few hours before a final plenary meeting.

”Most of the week was spent on the food security issue, with the Director General being the go-between between the United States and India.

”India was the most prominent among the developing countries that wanted to change the present WTO rules on agricultural subsidies that hinder the ability of government to purchase and stock staple foods from farmers.

”It was agreed that a permanent solution involving changes to rules would take more time, so Bali discussed an interim measure—a peace clause whereby WTO legal cases will not be taken against countries having a public food stocktaking programme.

”The issue was how long this peace clause would last. India, backed by many developing countries, wanted it to last till the permanent solution is found. The US and others wanted the peace clause to expire in four years. The final agreement was that the WTO would negotiate a permanent solution within four years, and countries will refrain from
taking cases until that solution is found”.

Khor said that the food security developing countries won the battle of duration, but that the peace clause is of limited value:

  • “First, it applies only to the Agriculture Agreement; countries can still sue under another agreement on subsidies.
  • ”Second, the peace clause applies only to existing programmes. Thus countries that have no programme and want to start one will not be covered.
  • ”Third, there are cumbersome conditions including the country providing a lot of information and notifying that it has reached its allowed subsidy limit, that may make it not worthwhile to use the peace clause.

Read on here: http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Global-Trends/Profile/Articles/2013/12/16/World-Trade-Organisation-makes-a-small-deal.aspx

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