LDCs: All roads lead to Bali

15 November 2013

This issue is published jointly with IDEAS Centre Geneva and aims at taking stock of the issues of special interest to the least-developed countries (LDCs) on the eve of the WTO's Bali Ministerial Conference.

No one can deny that the rhythm of the negotiations has increased since the end of the summer break. Bali will show whether this was "too little, too late" or sufficient to ensure both a balanced package and a stimulus for the post-Bali era. Three new draft decisions on LDC issues (on rules of origin, cotton and the implementation of the services waiver) have been released recently and will allow still needed discussions. An eighteenth version of the draft agreement on trade facilitation has also been provided, showing significant progress as well as a problematic status quo. Although there has been a recent step back on special and deferential treatment (S&D) monitoring mechanism negotiations, it can be assumed that discussions on the overall package have accelerated.

However, the same cannot be said yet on post-Bali issues.  For Bali not to be considered a failure, some decisions, or at least declarations of good will, accompanied by work plans on the technical issues will be required. For Bali to be seen as a success, members will have to engage rapidly in a likely thorny, but necessary debate on a long list of subjects that are all inter-related: governance, ways of negotiation, single undertaking, Doha issues versus non- Doha issues, global value chains (GVCs), mega deals, plurilaterals, etc.

This special edition of Bridges Africa is dedicated to LDCs, meaning that it is not limited to LDC issues but addresses a broad range of topics taking into account their concerns and challenges. The edition, therefore, encompasses three types of analyses on: LDC-specific issues; other non LDC-specific negotiating items of importance for the group, such as trade facilitation and to a lesser extent some topics in agriculture; and post-Bali systemic issues for which LDCs will need to sharpen their positions.

We hope you enjoy reading this issue and invite you to consult our Doha Round Briefing Series prior the Conference as well as ICTSD's Bridges Daily Update during the conference.

In addition to our renowned on-the-ground reporting, ICTSD will also organise a Trade and Development Symposium on the sidelines of the Ministerial Conference in Bali. The aim of the event is to provide a forum for discussion among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders on issues at the interface of trade and sustainable development, with a view to identifying policy options to address key challenges facing the multilateral trade system.

As usual, we invite readers to participate in future issues of Bridges Africa by helping to identify emerging issues and relevant research. We welcome your participation and contributions. Write to us at bridgesafrica@ictsd.ch.
The Bridges Africa team.

This article is published under
15 November 2013
Shankar D. Bairagi is currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nepal to the World Trade Organization. He is also the Coordinator of LDCs consultative group in WTO. The LDC package to...
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