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Jamaica will continue to press for additional flexibilities in the tariff cutting formula for small, vulnerable economies; the recognition of long-standing preferences in agriculture, and for longer transition periods to facilitate adjustment, in the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Doha Development Round discussions.
This is necessary, as participation in these discussions remain central to balancing Jamaica’s trading interests at the multilateral levels, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Ken Baugh told the House of Representatives, during his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate, yesterday (June 25).
He said these issues have implications for bilateral trade agreements, which the region has negotiated, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), as they address issues such as the erosion of preferences.
“Jamaica has also been at the forefront of the push by the Group of 33 developing countries to have the freedom to designate specific products as ‘Special Products’, which would be subject to carve-outs in any tariff adjustment treatment agreed by the WTO members. It should be noted that Jamaica served as co-ordinator for the ACP Group in Geneva for two terms and remains a member of the governing troika,” Dr. Baugh said.
New revised texts on Agriculture and Industrial Goods were issued in May and it is proposed that a Mini-Ministerial meeting be held in Geneva on July 31, to take stock of the progress of the negotiations and, where possible, to move the process forward, the Minister disclosed.
He pointed out that the negotiations and ministerial meetings have had many difficulties. The present round has been going on for six years and there are difficulties in coming to terms with the problems that relate to agreements in agriculture, especially in relation to subsidies and also to non-agricultural market access, in particular, industrial products and also to fisheries. These disagreements are in relation to the levels of tariffs and the changes that are being proposed.
Of specific concern to Jamaica, he said, is ensuring that progress is also made in the development issues such as Special and Differential Treatment and outstanding implementation issues and in other areas such as Trade and the Environment.
“I can’t emphasize it too much that Jamaica has made its position clear that there is the need to ensure that any outcomes of the Doha Round must have a development focus, otherwise, it cannot be called a development round,” he said.

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