Friday, September 04, 2009

Mutati bemoans Zambia’s exclusion from world trade negotiations

Mutati bemoans Zambia’s exclusion from world trade negotiations
Written by Kabanda Chulu
Friday, September 04, 2009 5:04:49 PM

COMMERCE minister Felix Mutati yesterday said the exclusion of many countries, including Zambia, in negotiations for world trade talks is complicating the conclusion of the Doha development agenda.

Speaking ahead of the mini-ministerial meeting taking place today in India with only a few selected countries to be in attendance to discuss global agriculture negotiations, Mutati said in Lusaka that all WTO-member countries must be involved if the discussions were to be meaningful and to result in binding agreements.

It is expected that the conclusion of the global round of trade talks under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) known as ‘Doha agenda’ would help to mitigate the impact of global recession through improved and fair world trade.

“In fact we have said that exclusion of certain countries especially LDCs and formation of groupings are complicating the process to have meaningful discussions since all of us must be involved, it is fine to have bilateral talks but negotiations should involve all of us including least developed countries (LDCs),” Mutati said.

“WTO rules are based on consensus that what is discussed and negotiated must be agreed upon by all parties and that nothing is concluded unless everyone has been consulted and agrees to the proposals, so there must be no exclusions because whatever outcome of those isolated meetings will not be accepted by the rest of the WTO membership hence the Doha talks will become a complicated issue.”

He explained that there were too many trade distortions and restrictions and various forms of trade barriers that needed to be addressed at the WTO level for the Doha round to make progress.

“We have tariff issues relating to the non-agriculture marketing access (NAMA) and the big powers have agriculture subsidies so even when they give you market access, how do you compete with products that are highly subsidised and despite opening doors for trade, the same big economies still impose various forms of non-tariff barriers so that our exports do not enter their markets,” said Mutati.

“And there are barriers like Rules of Origin and sanitary and phyto sanitary (SPS) standards but why should we pass through many rigorous stages just to export in fact these measures prevent us from entering their markets despite the door being wide open.”

Today, India is expected to host a mini-ministerial meeting in an effort to break the impasse towards concluding the Doha Round of WTO expansion.

Trade ministers from only a few countries, out of the 150-WTO membership, have been invited to discuss issues relating, but not limited, to agricultural negotiations.



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