SECOND COMMITTEE TEXT EXPRESSES SERIOUS CONCERN OVER SUSPENSION OF DOHA NEGOTIATIONS, CALLS FOR POLITICAL WILL TO RESUME THEM

1 December 2006
GA/EF/3171

SECOND COMMITTEE TEXT EXPRESSES SERIOUS CONCERN OVER SUSPENSION OF DOHA NEGOTIATIONS, CALLS FOR POLITICAL WILL TO RESUME THEM

1 December 2006
General Assembly
GA/EF/3171
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Committee

32nd Meeting (PM)

SECOND COMMITTEE TEXT EXPRESSES SERIOUS CONCERN OVER SUSPENSION

OF DOHA NEGOTIATIONS, CALLS FOR POLITICAL WILL TO RESUME THEM

Draft Approved by 107 Votes in Favour, 1 Against,

52 Abstentions; 5 Other Drafts Passed Without a Vote

The General Assembly would express serious concern over the suspension of the Doha Round of trade negotiations and call upon developed countries to demonstrate the flexibility and political will to resume the talks, according to one of six drafts resolution approved by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon.

By the terms of the text on international trade and development, the Assembly would note that the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers in agriculture had lagged behind that of the manufacturing sector.  Most of the world’s poor made their living from agriculture and would recognize that the comparative advantages of developing countries should not be undermined by any form of protectionism, including the arbitrary and abusive use of non-tariff measures, non-trade barriers and other standards to unfairly restrict the access of developing-country goods to the markets of developed countries.

Approved by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 52 abstentions, the draft would have the Assembly stress the need for the World Trade Organization to live up to its development imperatives in negotiating non-agricultural market access and call upon developed countries that had not already done so, as well as developing countries in a position to do so, to provide duty-free and quota-free market access on a lasting basis to all products originating from least developed countries.

The Assembly would, by other terms, express deep concern about laws and other forms of coercive economic measures imposed on developing countries, including unilateral sanctions, which undermined international law and the rules of the World Trade Organization.  Regarding the agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the Assembly would call for accelerated work in that regard, especially on making intellectual property rules fully supportive of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Also by that text, Member States would reaffirm their commitment to help integrate countries with small economies into the world economy and recognize the problems and needs of landlocked developing countries in terms of transit transport.  It would call for full implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, along with related provisions of the São Paulo Consensus.  It would also call for smooth accession to the World Trade Organization for least developed countries and countries emerging from conflict, and for the faithful application of accession guidelines.

The Assembly would, by further terms, reiterate the importance of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as the United Nations focal point on trade and development and interrelated issues like finance, technology, investment and sustainable development, and call on the international community to work towards increasing its core resources.  Donors would also be urged to enhance their contributions to the trust funds of the Integrated Framework for Trade-related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries and the Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme.  (See annex.)

Several abstaining delegates pointed out their reservations, with Canada’s delegate saying the text fell short, or had misrepresented commitments made elsewhere.  Its wording on duty-free and quota-free measures was inconsistent with the agreement reached at the December 2005 World Trade Organization conference in Hong Kong, while a paragraph on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights gave the impression that those rules were inconsistent with others on biological diversity, despite the fact that there was no inconsistency and that both measures could be implemented in a mutually supportive way.  Delegates also raised objections regarding the measure’s references to “coercive economic measures”, saying they were “arbitrary”.

Brazil’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market, said that, although he had voted in favour of the text, the Doha stalemate was a cause for concern and the Committee could have helped to create a favourable atmosphere for resumed talks.  In approving the measure by a recorded vote, the Committee had sent a message that it was divided.

Finland’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text seemed to have focused solely on agriculture, despite the fact that the Doha Development Agenda was not an agriculture-only negotiation.  Industrial goods, services and rules were also key elements of economic growth and it was wrong to underplay those issues.

The Committee also approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on International Assistance for the economic rehabilitation of Angola, by which the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation for selected countries and regions.  It would recognize that country’s efforts to maintain peace and national security; welcome its commitment to strengthen democratic institutions, and commend its leadership, coordination and successful implementation of the programme for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

In other action, the Committee approved, by consensus, draft resolutions on international migration and development and the proclamation of international years.  It also approved two texts, by which the General Assembly would proclaim 2008 the International Year of Sanitation and 2009 the International Year of Fibres.

Speakers in today’s meeting also included the representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), United States, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Australia, Syria, Japan, Benin (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), Egypt, Belarus, Indonesia, Iran and Angola.

The Second Committee will meet again on the afternoon of Wednesday, 6 December, to take action on all outstanding draft resolutions.

Background

As the Committee met this afternoon to consider the draft resolution on International trade and development (document A/C.2/61/L.14) -– by which the General Assembly would stress the need for the World Trade Organization to live up to its development imperatives, and call upon developed countries to demonstrate flexibility and political will to resume negotiations -- it also took up texts relating to commodities, sustainable development, globalization and interdependence, as well as humanitarian and disaster relief.

By the draft on the International Year of Natural Fibres (document A/C.2/61/L.52), the Assembly would, while noting that a diversity of natural fibres provide an important source of income for farmers in many countries and could play an important role in contributing to food security and eradicating poverty, proclaim 2009 the International Year of Fibres.  It would invite the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to facilitate observance of the Year, and call upon Governments and other international organizations to make voluntary contributions in accordance with Economic and Social Council guidelines.  Non-governmental organizations and the private sector would be invited to do the same.

Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on the International Year of Sanitation (document A/C.2/61/L.51), by which the Assembly -- deeply concerned by the slow progress in providing access to basic sanitation services, and conscious of the impact of the lack of sanitation on people’s health, poverty reduction, economic and social development and the environment, in particular water resources -- would declare 2008 the International Year of Sanitation.  It would request the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to serve as the focal point for the Year, while calling on States, subregional, regional and international organizations as well as the private sector and civil society to make voluntary contributions towards the Year.

The draft on International migration and development (document A/C.2/61/L.47) would also have the Assembly -- in acknowledgement of the important contribution made by migrants to development, as well as the complex interrelationship between migration and development -- call on all related United Nations entities and other intergovernmental organizations to continue addressing the issue of international migration and development within their respective mandates, with a view to integrating migration issues, including a gender perspective and cultural diversity, in a more coherent way within the context of the Millennium Development Goals and respect for human rights.

By the draft resolution on International Assistance for the economic rehabilitation of Angola (document A/C.2/61/L.10/Rev.2), the Assembly would take note of the report of the Secretary-General [on Humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation for selected countries and regions (document A/61/209)].  It would also recognize the efforts of the Government of Angola to maintain peace and national security, so as to ensure the country’s economic stability; welcome its commitment to strengthen democratic institutions, and commend its leadership, coordination and successful implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.

The text would have the Assembly express appreciation to the international community, the United Nations system, governmental and nongovernmental organizations participating in humanitarian assistance programmes in Angola, including mine-action activities, and have the body appeal for their continued contribution to humanitarian mine-action activities in a manner complementary to those of the Government.

Action on Draft Resolution

The Committee began by taking up the draft resolution on International trade and development (document A/C.2/61/L.14) and deciding to hold a recorded vote.

Explanations of Vote

The representative of Finland, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said he would abstain, as he was disappointed with the outcome of the consultation process.  Regrettably, it had not been possible to reach agreement on the draft resolution and to send a consensual message on the resumption of the Doha trade talks.  It would be in the interest of all to send such a message in clear recognition of the benefits of a successful conclusion.  The European Union remained fully committed to the Doha Development Agenda and to open markets, progressive trade liberalization and stronger multilateral issues as a trigger for growth and development.  The European Union urged all World Trade Organization members to contribute to the Doha Round according to their means, and called on emerging economies to open their markets to increase South-South trade.

He said he would abstain from the vote as the draft contained several elements that the European Union could not accept.  The overall text was imbalanced, and the European Union could not agree with the singling out of agriculture, as the Doha Development Agenda was not an agriculture-only negotiation.  Industrial goods, services and rules were also key to economic growth and it was wrong to underplay those areas.  On other issues, including action on Aid for Trade, as well as duty-free and quota-free market access for products from least developed countries, the text did not reflect all efforts to reach consensual language.  The European Union regretted that missed opportunity, since it remained committed to a significant development package.

The representative of the United States said his delegation had been a leading advocate of trade liberalization, and its Trade Representative had recently made presentations on the importance of trade in Hong Kong.  The United States regretted the lack of consensus on the text, which should have encouraged progress at Doha.  There was a need to put the talks on the path to successful conclusion, which would encourage further integration into the multilateral trading system.  The United States delegation had negotiated in good faith and was disappointed that the draft had prejudged the conditions under which the Doha Round should be restarted.  Consultations should have continued for longer, but regretfully, the Group of 77 had chosen to end the process.  The United States, therefore, would not support the draft.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he would abstain because a decision should be taken by consensus.  In that connection, the Russian Federation regretted that not all possibilities had been exhausted and hoped the Committee would strive for consensus in the future.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said trade was the most efficient tool for poverty alleviation and sustainable development, as his country’s experience had proved.  While the draft resolution contained important elements, it fell short of reflecting the needs of countries taking part in the Doha negotiations.  To conclude those talks, the needs of all participants should be reflected in a balanced manner on all agenda items.  As the negotiations had been suspended, the Committee must convey a strong message requesting their early resumption.

Expressing regret over the need to vote on the text today, he said delegations should work out a meaningful package that addressed the development dimensions of trade.  Today’s text did not fulfil expectations and for that reason, the Republic of Korea would abstain from the vote.  Although the Korean delegation was disappointed, it looked forward to unity on the remaining draft resolutions, including the one on commodities.

General Statements

The representative of South Africa, making a general statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said he was disappointed that the Committee had been unable to reach consensus.  Upon tabling the draft, the Group of 77 had intended to send a strong signal on the importance of resuming the trade talks.  It had drafted the text in such a way as to maintain all the issues contained in the Ministerial Declaration, with the hope that, by not going into specifics, consensus would be reached sooner.

The representative of Brazil, speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said he regretted that, for the third year, the Committee had not reached consensus.  It was disappointing that there had been no opportunity to send a message of unity on the Doha Round.  The stalemate was a cause for concern for MERCOSUR and World Trade Organization members, and the Committee could have helped to create a favourable atmosphere for resumed talks.  By approving the text via a recorded vote, it had sent a message that it was divided.  The single most important challenge was to put the negotiations back on track.  The differences within the Committee should not be irreconcilable.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of New Zealand, said his delegation had chosen to abstain from the vote and was disappointed that the Committee had been unable to reach consensus at a critical juncture.  It was regrettable that the text had not contributed to moving the Doha talks forward and had understated the role of a rules-based trading system, which would contribute to global prosperity.  Improved access in agriculture was critical if the World Trade Organization was to deliver on its promises.  All States should show the political will to work towards an ambitious outcome.

The representative of Canada said her delegation had worked in cooperation with others and thought progress was being made.  Regrettably, the Group of 77 had ended the negotiations and put the forward draft for action.  However, while the text had fallen short of what delegations should aspire to, Canada’s disappointment had nothing to do with the importance it placed on the role of trade in promoting growth.  Like other countries, Canada was disappointed that the Committee had been unable to agree on wording that would support the Doha Round.

On duty-free and quota-free measures, she said the wording was inconsistent with the agreement made on that issue at the December 2005 conference in Hong Kong.  Canada remained a supporter of least developed countries and its market-access initiative for them was one of the most far-reaching schemes, especially in its liberal rules of origin and administrative simplicity.  The text’s operative paragraph 12 gave the impression that Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) rules were inconsistent with those on biological diversity, but there was no inconsistency and both measures could be implemented in a mutually supportive way.  Moreover, operative paragraphs 15 and 16 were unacceptable, as they went beyond the agreed-to text.  References to “coercive economic measures” had been used arbitrarily.  For those reasons, Canada would abstain from the vote.

The representative of Syria asked which delegation had requested the vote.

The Committee then voted to approve the text by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 1 against ( United States), with 52 abstentions.  (See annex.)

The representative of Japan said his delegation was disappointed with the text, which did not send a balanced message regarding the Doha Round.  However, Japan supported the facilitation of economic growth for developing countries through its development initiative, through which duty -- and quota-free access -- was provided to all goods from least developed countries, in addition to assistance with infrastructure building.

The representative of Benin, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), noted that many countries had voiced their support for LDCs and agreed on the importance of according them more market access.  Unfortunately, when it came to putting those sentiments into the binding language of a resolution, those same countries seemed to hesitate.  The main purpose of the text, in the eyes of the least developed countries, was to reaffirm the Brussels Declaration and Plan of Action, as well as agreements reached in Hong Kong and elsewhere, regarding the great importance of providing access to goods from least developed countries.  The Group of Least Developed Countries stood ready to take any action necessary to advance that message to the General Assembly.

As the Committee took up the draft on the Proclamation of International Years (document A/C.2/61/L.46/Rev.1), Committee Chairperson TIINA INTELMANN ( Estonia) said it had been left out of today’s Journal by mistake.

The representative of Australia then introduced the text, on behalf of his own country and Canada, which the Committee approved without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of Member States and United Nations entities the guidelines for future international years contained in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1980/67 of 25 July 1980, as adopted by the General Assembly in its decision 35/424 of 5 December 1980, and call on Member States to take into account the criteria and procedures contained in those guidelines when considering future proposals for international years.

As the Committee took up the draft resolution on the International Year of Natural Fibres (document A/C.2/61/L.52), VANESSA GOMES ( Portugal), its Rapporteur, introduced two oral amendments to the text, deleting all references to Economic and Social Council resolution 1980/67.

The Committee then approved the text, as orally amended, and withdrew an earlier version (document A/C.2/61/L.2).

Introducing the draft on the International Year of Sanitation (document A/C.2/61/L.51), Vice-Chairman Benedicto Fonseca Filho ( Brazil) thanked the representative of Egypt, who had facilitated discussions on the text, and those who had taken part in those talks in a constructive spirit.

The representative of Egypt noted that the number of co-sponsors had increased since the close of discussions and thanked all those who had contributed to the speedy drafting of the text.

The representative of Belarus said he would have voted in favour had he been present for the Committee’s previous action.

The representatives of Indonesia and Iran said their respective delegations would become co-sponsors of the text before the Committee.

The representative of Brazil said that, after conferring with other co-sponsors, it was his understanding that the document should appear as A/C.2/61/L.16/Rev.1, and that the names of all co-sponsors should appear and be duly reflected in the document to be approved by the Committee.

The Committee then approved the text by consensus.

Explanation of Position

The representative of Japan, thanking all delegations that had supported the draft resolution, noted the significance of its timing.  The 2006 Development Report focused on water and sanitation, calling for a global partnership for action.  It was to be hoped that it would raise awareness of the crisis posed by the lack of water and sanitation and facilitate action at the local, national and international levels.

Action on Draft Resolution

Committee Vice-Chairman ABOUBACAR SADIKH BARRY ( Senegal), introducing the draft on International migration and development (document A/C.2/61/L.47), thanked the representative of Indonesia for facilitating the negotiations on that text, as well as all other delegates for demonstrating consensus.

The representative of Argentina introduced a correction to the Spanish version of the text.

The Committee then approved the text without vote, withdrawing an earlier version (document A/C.2/61/L.12).

General Statements

The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said there should be ongoing dialogue in the United Nations on the issue of international migration and development with the aim of reversing underdevelopment, poverty and the related “skills flight”.  Attention should also be given to the questions of forced migration and its economic effects on host countries, as well as refugees and displaced persons in the context of armed hostilities.  The Group of 77 looked forward to a debate on the subject next year and to the high-level dialogue to be held later.

The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was to his understanding that the General Assembly would engage in a dialogue on the topic during its sixty-third session, following the high-level dialogue.  Follow-up on the outcome of the last high-level dialogue had already started, with the recent holding of a European Union-African Union ministerial meeting in Libya.  Another forum would be held in Belgium next year.

The representative of Indonesia thanked his fellow delegates for having achieved consensus on such an important issue.

Action on Draft Resolution

The representative of Angola, introducing the draft resolution on International Assistance for the economic rehabilitation of Angola (document A/C.2/61/L.10/Rev.2), said several countries had become co-sponsors.

The Committee then approved the text without vote, as orally amended.

The representative of Angola expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who had been engaged constructively in achieving consensus on the text, which was an expression of appreciation to all States, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector parties that had contributed to the alleviation of humanitarian crises resulting from conflict in his country.

He said the text recognized the Angolan Government’s leadership in placing the country on a path towards sustainable economic growth and development, as well as the important principle of national ownership, which was vital to the success of any post-conflict country.  Angola thanked all States whose understanding of its economy had enabled them to help in the reconstruction of the country’s social and economic infrastructure, which would sustain the current peace.

ANNEX

Vote on Trade and development

The draft resolution on international trade and development (document A/C.2/61/L.14) was approved by a recorded vote of 107 in favour to 1 against, with 52 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  United States.

Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Absent:  Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Myanmar, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.