Aileen Kwa
Pascal Lamy sent out a letter to all Heads of Delegations at the WTO today wherein he talks about “the next steps in our process towards establishing modalities negotiations in agriculture and NAMA.” He clarifies that the conclusion of modalities, is not the conclusion of the negotiations in NAMA and Agriculture. “The establishment of modalities is, instead, a necessary stage to allow us to proceed to the preparation of schedules and to address other related issues”.
He goes on to say that the Chairs of Agriculture and NAMA “are preparing texts, based on their respective processes, with the aim of circulating them to Members on or around 19 June”. (The latest news is that texts will be out on the 21st).

He then outlines the plans for the week of the 26th:
“In the week commencing 26 June, I would see the need to move to a more integrated overall consideration of the key issues which remain to be resolved in these texts. This consultative process will take place in various formats, with open-ended informal TNC meetings at its core. These meetings will take place frequently, and the process will culminate in a formal meeting of the TNC, which will be convened initially for 30 June, but which may be continued on subsequent days as necessary. A convening notice for that meeting will be sent out on 20 June. It is my understanding that a number of Ministers intend to take part in this consultative process from about 28 June, and that some may wish to attend the TNC meeting. A note concerning logistic arrangements for this will shortly be made available to delegations.”
According to secretariat sources, formally, no invitations have been sent out to Ministers. However, (as if by magic), it is expected that the right mix of Ministers will arrive in Geneva.
30 – 40 Ministers are expected to be in town (including the EU Ministers). Whilst it is not made explicit in Lamy’s communication, the mini-Ministerial will take place from the 29th onwards. Though the TNC has been planned for the 30th, there is a greater likelihood that the mini-Ministerial will drag on through the weekend into the 1st and 2nd with some kind of text adopted on the 2nd (or possibly even in the early hours of the 3rd) as was the case in the July 2004 Framework negotiations).
The G33 is also organizing a ministerial meeting (possibly on 28th June).
One African delegate reported that amongst various developing country circles, negotiators are highly doubtful that there will be finalization of modalities in June. However, they predict that a document of some sort will be adopted.
”From the look of things, it seems we will not get there. Probably the Ministers will not adopt full modalities but maybe a structure”.
Initially, the EU had planned for a “stock-taking” services mini-Ministerial before the Agriculture / NAMA mini Ministerial. However, due to time constraints, this stock-taking meeting is no longer on the cards. If services is discussed, it is likely to be only for a brief time during the mini Ministerial between the 29th and 2nd.
NAMA Positions More Polarised
In NAMA, the developed countries (Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US) greatly angered developing countries by circulating a Room Document entitled “NAMA: Formula” last week. It was discussed on 8 – 9 June. The proposal calls for the coefficient of developing countries’ to be only 5 points above that of developed countries.
The proposal also redefines “less than full reciprocity”. The NAMA 11 has taken this to mean that developing countries should undertake smaller percentage tariff cuts than developed countries. The New Zealand et al document instead whittles down the concept to mean a higher coefficient for developing countries; application of paragraph 8 flexibilities that give developing countries an exemption or less cuts for a certain percentage of lines and trade; Special treatment for small, vulnerable economies; non application of formula for paragraph 6; exemption of formula for LDCs.
The debate over the document (8-9 June) was a very heated one. According to one source,  the atmosphere has become more “acrimonious and positions are even more polarized.” The Brazil Ambassador, for example, delivered a long stinging statement in response to it. It also prompted NAMA 11 to produce a paper which was circulated yesterday (15 June), reiterating their positions on the need for flexibilities. One African negotiator commented that those developing countries who had been willing to go along with a Swiss formula “now feel as if they have been tricked. This is not what they were expecting”. Many were expecting the coefficients for developing countries to be in the vicinity of 20 – 30. They are not prepared for a 15 coefficient that developed countries are now demanding. In the debates, Egypt for example, even brought back the idea of the ABI formula (which is less aggressive for developing countries).
The unresolved issues in NAMA at the beginning of the 6 week negotiations still stand. The one area that has been partly resolved pertains to paragraph 6 countries (those that currently have less the 35 per cent of their tariffs bound) where it has been agreed that these countries would bind their tariffs at the average of 28.5 per cent (the average of developing countries’ bound tariffs after Uruguay Round commitments). However, where the disagreement currently stands is the figure for the binding coverage. Annex B of the July Framework asks for 100 per cent binding of the tariff lines of paragraph 6 countries (although this figure is in brackets). Today, paragraph 6 countries are asking to bind up to 70% of their tariff lines.
For most of this week (12 – 16 June), the Chair Donald Stephenson has been conducting “confessionals” to know what countries’ bottom lines are.
Agriculture: No Agreements
The Chair of the Committee, Crawford Falconer had released his market access consolidated paper on Friday 9 June. This was discussed on Monday 12th. In the meantime, Falconer also released a similar consolidated paper on export competition (15 June), which is being discussed today. 
Falconer’s market access text largely reflects the variety of positions of delegations. The text contains many options in brackets. In the 12th June discussion on this text, most delegations seemed to be glad to have a “no surprises” text. The majority of their positions were captured in some form. However, ACP Members did voice great concern that Falconer was pushing for the G20 proposal on tariff cuts to be the likely “landing zone”. According to Falconer, “At this point in time, I cannot see how any objective observer could avoid the conclusion that the real zone of engagement has to be around the G20. Whether it is, in the currently fashionable jargon, on the G20, north of the G20 or south of the G20 is moot… if we are going to have an agreement I have the sense that that is where the real negotiation will have to take place” (Negotiations on Agriculture: Revised Consolidated Reference Paper on Possible Modalities on Market Access”, 9 June 2006).
Alongside the ACP, the G10 and the EU also voiced their concerns about the Chair favouring the G20 position as the zone of convergence. The Cairns Group, US and G20 of course were in favour of this position.
According to an African delegate, “He said that as Chair, he is in no position to delete brackets himself, but he will try to use his own judgment and maybe leave out some brackets where he thinks there is some consensus emerging.
“The next draft will not have as many brackets as this one, but the worry is I hope he doesn’t take it upon himself to remove brackets because the meeting (of the 12th) did not offer guidance, unless he sits and makes his own personal judgment about which brackets should be removed and what should remain. We have to stress that when he removes brackets, he should only reflect existing consensus”.
Given the fact that most issues, and certainly all the major issues remain unresolved even after the 6 week negotiations in Geneva, in both NAMA and Agriculture, the Mini Ministerial where only a few are being invited into exclusive Green Room decision-making meetings, becomes all the more problematic.