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Cancun Ministerial Conference: An Impasse


Code : ITF0028

Year :

Industry :General Business

Region : :Null

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment : Available

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Effort for Consensus at Cancun At the Cancun conference, the developed countrieswanted negotiations to be launched on the Singapore issues. This was opposed by the developing countries that wanted negotiations on the agriculture issues and the least developed countrieswanted negotiations on the issue of cotton subsidies. The developing countries rejected the basic text that listed the topics for discussion alleging that the entire textwas in favour of the developed countries’ interests, especially theUS and the EuropeanUnion (EU). Considering the interests of various countries, theChairman of theConference andMexican foreign minister, Luis ErnestoDerbez divided the issues into five groups...

The Factors for the Failure The major factor for the failure of the Cancun negotiations was the disagreement between the developed and the developing countries on the framing of new rules on the “Singapore Issues” (Exhibit 1). The developed countries like the EU, Japan and SouthKorea insisted on taking up the Singapore issues for negotiations, whichwas strongly rejected by the African and Asian countries,whichwanted negotiations on agriculture issues. The insistence of the developed countries to take up the Singapore issues was seen as their way of avoiding negotiations on the agriculture issues...

The Singapore Issues Investment, competition policy, transparency in governmental procurement and trade facilitation formed theSingapore issues [Exhibit 1]. Itwas decided during theDohaMinisterialConference in 2001 that the negotiations on the four Singapore issueswould be taken up in the FifthMinisterialConference provided therewas an ‘explicit consensus’ onmodalities of the negotiations. During the Cancun conference, the EU insisted on starting negotiations on all the Singapore issues. But the rejection fromthe developing countries stalled the commencement of the negotiations. Later, the EUoffered to drop negotiations on investment and competition policy and proposed to start negotiations on procurement and trade facilitation. The developing countries continued to reject the commencement of negotiations on any of the Singapore issues, notwithstanding the EU’s offer...

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The Agriculture Issues – Farm Trade Liberalization Agriculture is the pillar onwhichmost of the developing countries stand to build their economies.Due to this importance of agriculture, the developing countries looked forward for negotiations on these issues.Change in attitude of the developed countries towards the issue of ‘support for agriculture’was essential to allowthe developing countries to enjoy the benefits of free trade. TheDoha commitment regarding the agricultural sector involved commitments on increase ofmarket access, elimination of export subsidies and a substantial reduction in the domestic support...

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