Philippines: Stakeholder Participation in Agricultural Policy Formation18/05/2012
Donah Sharon Baracol - Senior Economist, Philippines Sugar Millers Association, Manila.
I. The problem in context
Agriculture is a major contributor to the Philippines economy, accounting for 21.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP),(1) generating exports valued at over US$1.5 billion,(2) and providing one third of all employment, or 11 million jobs.(3) Its contribution increases when ‘all economic activities related to agro-processing and supply of non-farm agricultural inputs are included, (as) the agricultural sector broadly defined accounts for about two-thirds of the labour force and 40% of GDP’.(4) The strategic importance of this sector makes it compelling for the government to enact a stakeholder-based process that will fully and effectively render legitimacy not only to its domestic economic policies but to its international economic commitments as well, such as to the WTO.
In 1995 the Philippines acceded to the WTO in the belief that its membership of the rules-based body would bring about economic benefits, primarily to the rural sector, through increased efficiency of industries required by exposure to global competition. Jobs were promised and new industries were expected to emerge.
With the implementation of the WTO Uruguay Round commitments in 1995 came also the increasing realization, especially by the agriculture stakeholders, that the promised gains were not forthcoming. The liberalization implied by the commitments was perceived as too fast and beyond the country’s capacity to comply, and so found poor general acceptance. Serious accusations were made about the government’s lack of consultation with the affected sectors, and blame directed towards government negotiators whom stakeholders felt were not only vastly uninformed about the situation in the field, but were also regarded as ‘blind’ advocates of rapid liberalization and therefore insensitive to their needs. Stakeholders believed that inadequate consultation had resulted in this serious disconnection between the government negotiating position and the complex realities in the field. There was an immediate call for a participatory and bottom-up approach to the domestic process in agricultural trade negotiations.
The opportunity to transform the function of formulating the negotiating position into an inclusive process was provided by the preparations needed for the upcoming WTO Seattle Ministerial in late 1999. Stakeholder participation and work could be focused around a central objective, which was to prepare for the Ministerial Conference and the global negotiations towards a new agreement on agriculture.
The Task Force on WTO Agreement on Agriculture (Re)negotiations (TF-WAR) was therefore established amidst increasing public clamour, led by farmers and people’s organizations, as well as industry groups, for transparency and representation in the formulation of the Philippine negotiating position in the new round of WTO talks.
II. The local and external players and their roles
The creation of the TF-WAR
On 28 September 1998, the then Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), through Special Order No. 538(5) duly constituted the Task Force on WTO Agreement on Agriculture (Re)negotiations, a multi-sectoral task force composed of twenty-eight representatives from farmer groups, industry associations, business federations, non-government organizations, people’s organizations and other relevant government institutions and agencies.(6) The main responsibility of the TF-WAR was to consider, develop, evaluate and recommend Philippine negotiating positions and strategies for the new round of negotiations.
Other functions of the TF-WAR included evaluating existing policies and programmes in the agriculture sector and providing policy and programme recommendations to address gaps that erode the benefits of WTO membership; reviewing General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) adjustment and competitive enhancement measures (safety nets) drawn prior to the Philippines accession in 1995; and identifying projects and sources of funds to enhance the competitiveness of Philippines agriculture.
The TF-WAR reports to the DA Secretary, and is chaired by the DA Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning. An elected private-sector representative serves as vice-chair. The decision on the final composition of the TF-WAR was a collective decision of the body.
During the course of the preparations for the Seattle Ministerial, the TF-WAR functioned as a formal group much like a standard inter-agency and multi-sectoral committee in the department, following the provisions of the Special Order. With the increasing demands required by the faster pace of developments on the run-up to the Seattle Ministerial, when gathering the entire membership more frequently became difficult, an ad hoc technical working group was formed to examine specific issues needing immediate feedback and comment.
In late 2001, after the new WTO Round was launched in Doha, the structure and organization of the TF-WAR underwent changes following reorganization and movement of personnel in the DA who were involved in the TF-WAR. A new Special Order was issued to reconstitute the TF-WAR.(7) While the stakeholder membership remained intact, this time it was a less formal organization and it was streamlined to involve only those government agencies which had key participation in trade policy-making. The secondary functions of the TF-WAR were removed, and its work now focused on the sole responsibility of formulating national negotiating position in agriculture. A significant new feature, however, was the formation of a core group in early 2002.
The constitution of the TF-WAR core group
The TF-WAR core group was formed to improve technical and policy work to support the TF-WAR, and to enable a quick response to developments in the negotiations, expected to become more intensive as the talks progressed. The chair recalls that ‘The process…. recognized the unwieldiness of the plenary/general assembly system.’ TF-WAR members who had good knowledge of a key sector and had some technical competence were invited to join the core group as a ‘permanent representation, on a voluntary but committed basis’. Representatives sit in the group in an individual capacity and therefore do not represent a particular sector or interest. They may represent the country in the negotiations in Geneva, when resources permit, as official delegates and advisers. As members, they are expected to render objective analysis on the issue at hand, with the overarching consideration that any recommendation put forward is the optimal position regarded as best representing the interests of the entire Philippines agriculture. The core group members are always on call, required to convene at short notice, and consulted directly by the Geneva office in real time when necessary.
The TF-WAR core group was constituted through Special Order No. 231 dated 2 May 2002.(8) The members include the chairman of the task force, five representatives from the private sector, and staff from the DA Policy and Planning Office acting as technical secretariat. Specific tasks include detailed evaluation of proposals submitted by WTO members, in-depth analysis of both the overall and specific impacts on Philippine agriculture, and the formulation and elaboration of specific proposals based on these analyses guided by the general policy direction decided in the TF-WAR.
III. Challenges faced and the outcome
The creation of the TF-WAR redefined the consultation process in the Philippines on issues of national significance such as trade negotiations. It is unique in that it empowers the stakeholders by giving them a central role, involving them from the very start of the process and throughout the entire negotiations, going much farther than the token exchange of views that had characterized previous consultation processes by the government.
A. The agriculture trade negotiation process
Figure 1 illustrates the process of formulating the Philippines national negotiating position on agriculture, and the institutions involved. The entire negotiation process involves a complex two-level dynamic, first among the domestic institutions involved, and second within and among members of the WTO, aimed at reaching a consensus on what is known as the Geneva process. The Geneva process of negotiations in agriculture drives the TF-WAR process.
Figure 1. The agriculture trade negotiation process.
Any new work by the TF-WAR begins with a specific development in the WTO agriculture negotiations. The Agriculture Office of the DA in Geneva regularly transmits developments in the negotiations to the TF-WAR. This, together with the reports by the DA Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, who is both the capital-based negotiator as well as the chair of the TF-WAR, of results of special negotiating sessions in Geneva, is the basis for the continuing work of the TF-WAR. The capital-based negotiator plays a pivotal role in the negotiations, being the link between the internal process and the external process. This entire dynamic is illustrated in the diagram, where the Geneva Philippines mission/agriculture negotiating team receives from and feeds into the TF-WAR process on one hand, and receives from and feeds into the Geneva process on the other.
After an assessment of these developments by the TF-WAR, further work is passed on to the core group, whose recommendations go back to the bigger group for evaluation and approval. These are then formally confirmed by the chair of the TF-WAR to the DA Secretary for transmittal to the Cabinet Trade and Related Matters (TRM) Committee or, in the case of specific positions within established negotiating mandates, to the Geneva-based negotiators. Discussion on recommendations or issues brought to the TRM are reported back to the TF-WAR.
The agriculture negotiating team is guided by a negotiating mandate developed with the TF-WAR and with clearance from the president. Issues within the mandate and clearance level of Geneva-based staff are merely reported back to the capital. Meanwhile, issues needing clearance at the level of the DA senior official are transmitted to the capital for a decision. The core group is convened at short notice and the issue(s) evaluated. Cleared instructions and alternatives are then issued to Geneva. For major issues that require a political decision,(9) the issue is transmitted to the capital for evaluation and recommendation by the core group and the entire TF-WAR membership, and for a final clearance and mandate by the Secretary. Ministerial Conference mandates are obtained through a further route to the cabinet TRM and the president.
The essence of stakeholder participation in the negotiations is reflected on the left-hand part of the diagram, which shows that the mandate of the TF-WAR flows from the stakeholders which they represent and whose position they endorse. When the president adopts it as the national position, it reflects the accountability of the office to an important political constituency, recognizing that its real mandate stems from this exercise of democratic governance.
B. The TF-WAR process
The following activities characterize the TF-WAR process.
Regular meetings. This is the heart of the domestic process. Aside from regular updating meetings, the chair meets the TF-WAR before and after each meeting of delegations in Geneva to discuss the proposals of WTO members, to report the results of WTO special sessions, and to provide the assessment of the negotiating team and its implications for the Philippines negotiating position. Issues discussed are organized along the structure of the Agreement on Agriculture. Discussion ensues mainly on the substance of the ongoing talks and possible issues to be raised, and the negotiating strategy to adopt. Members provide feedback on the possible impact of these developments or decision points on their respective sectors.
Issues are explained with emphasis on decision points. Members recommend positions and attempt to reach a consensus. If none is reached, further discussions are held if there is still available time. If not, the issue is examined more closely by the core group, who will look into the technical merits of each individual position and at other arguments to try to balance the opposing views.
The TF-WAR deals with sensitive issues of national significance, and in order not to compromise the integrity of a position, members adhere to strict guidelines for security and confidentiality of information. Information is released according to levels of confidentiality.(10)
Consultations. Consultations with their respective membership are held individually by each TF-WAR member organization. Inputs and recommendations arising from these consultations are gathered by the secretariat and discussed in the core group meetings, where views are consolidated. These are then presented in the TF-WAR and duly recommended to the Secretary. Interaction with stakeholders not represented in the TF-WAR may be through DA-initiated national and regional consultations with organization leaders, direct consultations with stakeholders or public fora.
Workshops. The core group holds one-day or two-day workshops when the issues require more study and analysis. For issues requiring technical expertise otherwise not available within the group, it invites resource persons from other government agencies or institutions and practitioners from the private sector for input.
Technical work and research. The Core Group is responsible for this, and is assisted by the secretariat, which undertakes research and the gathering and consolidation of data, processing them into the format required for analysis by the core group with the use of simple economic tools to assist in the evaluation of alternative scenarios arising from various possible negotiating positions.
Approval process and recommendation. The TF-WAR approves a final recommendation, after which the position is recommended to the DA Secretary, which then recommends it to the TRM. After deliberation, this is recommended to the president, who adopts it as the Philippines negotiating framework. This framework defines the parameters within which the DA negotiating team is mandated to work. It forms the basis for Philippines submissions to the WTO, such as proposals or statements.
The Task Force has produced at least five proposals submitted to the WTO Committee on Agriculture-Special Session since 1999, none of which has been rejected by the Secretary of Agriculture, the cabinet or the president. Assistant Secretary Segfredo R. Serrano, chair of the TF-WAR, recalls that ‘Many of the developing country blocs’ operational concepts of SND and even the current negotiations vocabulary owe much to TF-WAR deliberations: Strategic/Special Products (SPs),(11) Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM),(12) automatic countervailing/counterbalancing mechanisms, the concept of interlinkage of pillar commitments, among others.’
IV. Lessons for others (the players views)
The existence of such a group, representing various parochial interests, strengthens the recommending authority of the DA Secretary and lends greater legitimacy to the mandate of the president, to whom all recommendations are submitted, to proceed with the negotiating position in the WTO, the position having emanated from his or her wider constituency. This is perhaps the strongest feature of the TF-WAR process. More specific observations follow.
The institutionalized participation of stakeholders is ensured
The DA has institutionalized the participation of stakeholders in trade negotiations, not only through the formal creation of the TF-WAR by a Special Order, but by making it the central player in the negotiation process, thus ensuring the continued active involvement of these interested parties.
For TF-WAR members, ‘the process is participatory and consultative, it enables members to input into the negotiation process’. ‘It provides a venue to air our concerns regarding the impact of liberalization on our respective sectors.’ ‘The recommendation truly reflects the situation on the ground.’ ‘Industries feel they are heard and their interests recognized by government.’ ‘The mechanism thus far has been effective in addressing the systemic mistake in the past Round wherein stakeholders played a relatively passive role in the formulation of negotiating position.’ ‘There are less accusations from the industries that they were not heard.’
Moreover, the TF-WAR experience has proved that deeper involvement by stakeholders in the negotiating process can be obtained at very minimal financial cost to the government, an important consideration for developing countries with limited resources. Members join on a voluntary basis and through representation enable the government to reach out to more sectors without having to hold individual consultations each time.
A more informed, balanced and credible negotiating position is adopted
Stakeholders’ experiences from the implementation of Uruguay Round commitments provide very useful and practical insights on the possible consequences of adopting a certain position. Members perceive that with the TF-WAR process, the sensitivity of agricultural interests is better reflected in the positions adopted. There is, moreover, a practical importance to involving the private sector, as they can better identify specific trade opportunities and barriers to Philippine exports, or threats to their markets.
The TF-WAR has members representing upstream and downstream users of agricultural commodities,(13) and can therefore be regarded as a balanced group. As each member, however, is encouraged to be parochial in advancing their interests and concerns, conflict between different sectors is unavoidable. The chair observes, ‘Conflicting interests are discussed openly. Differences in views are debated, and are judged on substantive and technical merit. Any resolution must be consistent with the existing negotiating mandate. If the government decides to break the impasse, it can do so and would still need to generate consensus.’ While these conflicting interests result in dynamics that are difficult to manage, the resolution of any issue gains more acceptance from all sectors when an equal opportunity to defend individual interests has been given. The TF-WAR, therefore, is a venue that ‘neutralizes’ the extreme positions that may be pushed for by opposing sectors.
Stakeholder experience, insights, and better knowledge of markets, balanced membership of TF-WAR, and adoption based on consensus, all ensure that the negotiating position adopted is informed, balanced and credible. It enables members, moreover, to feel ownership of the positions adopted and proposals forwarded. ‘[This] ownership is the bedrock of widespread political support which in turn gave those positions and proposals, and the TF-WAR, longevity and resilience in terms of official government support’, a member observes.
A transparent process provides equal access and a neutral venue for stakeholders
Many stakeholder groups are not able to advance their position with policy-makers in a continuing and sustained advocacy, since very few sectors are organized enough to fund it and carry it out. The TF-WAR process provides equal access and opportunity to all stakeholders to be heard on agricultural trade issues in a sustained manner. The process is transparent and is devoid of the politicization that usually favours the more influential sector. The neutrality of venue and this openness minimize the mutual mistrust that often characterizes government and private-sector relations, and lends greater credibility to the position that is eventually adopted by the government.
The commitment of all actors ensures credibility of position
Sectors involved in the formulation are committed to the position adopted and, as one member observes, can support the government in explaining and advocating it to the public. Maintaining consistency of and commitment to a position is built in to the process. Any change or adjustment in the TF-WAR adopted position that the government intends to advance in the WTO must be referred back to the stakeholders and subjected to the entire process of approval.
According to Assistant Secretary Serrano, ‘Many developing countries have traumatically experienced frequent changes in position and thus the problem of credibility and principled consistency. The TF-WAR process solved that for the Philippines, even effectively insulating the country’s negotiating positions from strong pressure from external forces including the major parties in the negotiations. Effectively, the internal pressure generated has always been stronger than those coming from other quarters.’ He further explains that
for a small country like the Philippines to advance its national interests in the negotiations successfully, it must use its meagre negotiating resources to influence other negotiating parties to its orbit. Allies, especially the developing countries, can only be generated at critical mass if there is credibility, statesmanship and consistency — roughly about 75% of small country negotiating resources. The Philippines is a strong member of the Cairns Group, the G20 and the SP and SSM Alliance [G33] and has thus attained a high level of influence in the negotiations representing developing country interests. The Philippines is now also a consistent participant in the select Green Room process, a level of influence never attained in the Uruguay Round nor in the other negotiating areas of the Doha Round.
The TF-WAR supplies stability to the negotiations effort
The Department leadership frequently changes, on average every eighteen months. Introducing the TF-WAR and obtaining a fresh mandate can take time, which affects the continuity of work. Traditional and conservative leaderships have also become a problem in this respect.
As the capital-based negotiator puts it,
On the part of the Department, anticipating the inevitable pressures on the government in any trade negotiation and the frequent changes in leadership at the ministerial and senior official level, the design of the TF-WAR provides stability to the negotiations effort. As the decisions on recommendations to the government are arrived at through consensus in the TF-WAR, mirroring the WTO process,…. repudiation of or changes in domestically negotiated positions can be very costly politically. While this mode of arriving at recommendations is most difficult and can only eventually come after an intense education of members on the language and nuances of the negotiations, and the difficult process of negotiations among themselves, joint ownership by stakeholders and government provides a most robust and sustainable anchor.
Broader dissemination of information domestically and alliance-building internationally are ensured
The multi-sectoral membership, which includes civil society, benefits the process at two levels — dissemination of information to a wider constituency through their local networks and advocacy at the international level through their international networks. This way, it is possible to bring the position of developing countries closer to each other, if not into convergence, when stakeholders in their respective countries are persuaded to advocate similar positions. At the WTO level, the advocacy of developing countries may even be strengthened, through a consistent and coherent position around issues of common interest to stakeholders across developing countries, which creates an ‘informal’ or silent alliance between these same countries when they articulate and advocate their views in Geneva.
In addition, the civil society groups in the TF-WAR also help in linking up Philippine negotiators with their international counterparts. This greatly helps in generating support among the WTO membership, particularly the developing countries.
Stakeholders improve their understanding of the international trading system
The TF-WAR increases awareness of developments in the international trading system, which helps industries to identify specific gains from trade negotiations. Without such advocacy, the sectors have only vague notions of benefits or, worse, may get a ‘bad’ deal. Sectors are able to determine how their interests can best be promoted or defended through the negotiations if they have a closer understanding of its process and substance. It also helps to avoid unreasonable demands being made on the government, and gives the private sector a chance to evaluate and, if necessary, alter its recommendation to the government, in order to get the optimum deal.
The TF-WAR core group ensures responsiveness and timeliness of feedback
Technical issues become unwieldy if discussed in the bigger group. The core group enables the DA to respond quickly to developments in the negotiations as new issues are immediately brought to its attention for evaluation and study. In addition, since the convenor of the core group is also the chair of the TF-WAR as well as the negotiator, there is a seamlessness in the flow of the work being undertaken, in terms of depth of familiarity with the subject, and an established presence in Geneva and other negotiating circles, which enables core group response and feedback to be obtained as fast as is needed by Geneva.
Technical experience that complements Geneva expertise is accumulated
The Agriculture Office in Geneva has acknowledged the contribution of the core group to the quality of interventions and proposals by the Philippines. With the Geneva Office having a very limited number of people dedicated to handling all related concerns, the core group becomes all the more important as the capital-based working group which can make a more detailed and in-depth analysis of the issues at hand, at the same time providing a more comprehensive perspective based on their deeper understanding of sectoral concerns.
Moreover, prior to the creation of the core group only a few key personnel at the DA and very few from the private sector had a good grasp of the Agreement on Agriculture and the intricacies of the negotiations. Since then, the core group has become a pool of resource persons, competent in their understanding of the Agreement. The members are regularly invited as speakers and lecturers to relevant fora and meetings organized by the government or the private sector. They also complement the negotiating team in Geneva as advisers.
The quality of trade policy-making is improved
The rigid exercise of providing input, obtaining consensus, clearance, and feedback that all negotiating position is subject to at all levels in the process of negotiation ensures the quality of policy formulation from the Philippine side.
Public support for the positions taken in the negotiations, including by international civil society groups, is proof that the positions have gained wide acceptance on their own merits. According to Assistant Secretary Serrano, the Task Force also has a perfect score in terms of positions recommended and adopted by the president. A good number of these positions, expressed as formal proposals submitted to the WTO, have likewise gained widespread support among developing countries. All these attest to the effectiveness of an improved domestic process in handling agriculture negotiations.
- It is a very tedious process, since all parties have to be consulted, according to one member. The process is inherently slow and encourages contentiousness.
- Most members believe that the participation of members can still be improved. In the assessment of the chair, ‘In its early, “getting at the learning curve” stages, participation was uneven, given the openness of participation. Likewise, when developments appear to be encouraging or trust in government negotiators has been firmly established, participation tends to suffer. Being voluntary and interest-based in nature on the part of private sector stakeholders, some groups have not been represented or representation is uneven.’
- A smaller group addresses these problems but sacrifices representativeness and the participation of some sectors. While manageability will be an important consideration, a complementary process or modality must be developed to attain optimal inclusivity.
- The limited technical expertise of the core group may not be sufficient to address the more detailed level of technical work necessary to support future work in the negotiations. Not all members have formal training in trade and the WTO Agreements. Moreover, even if created through a Special Order, involvement is voluntary, so that the level of involvement is dependent mainly on individual commitment and availability. As such, there is no assurance of continuity even of this limited expertise. The quality of outputs may also be compromised owing to individual responsibilities in the members’ regular jobs.
- There are limitations in resources to undertake more detailed work, such as the lack of technical personnel in the DA Policy and Planning Office to handle WTO negotiations, the lack of a good information database, and the unreliability of funding sources. This last is important for other activities supporting the basic function of the TF-WAR, such as wider information dissemination and education through workshops, seminars and perhaps the attendance of members and the core group at formal training sessions on WTO issues and negotiating skills, the hiring of consultants and experts when rigorous analytical work is necessary, and the conducting of studies, as well as travelling to the regions for consultations and to Geneva for the negotiating sessions.
- There is a lack of an overall feedback mechanism. A member observes that ‘feedback at the sectoral and organizational level is ensured. At the grassroots, this is largely dependent on the member organizations’ fulfilling their downstream feedback and consultative responsibilities. On this score, much improvement needs to be made.’
Sectors, moreover, will benefit most from this process if within the TF-WAR member organizations themselves, there is a mechanism for internal consultation and feedback on the issues raised in the TF-WAR. Views expressed by their representatives in the TF-WAR will have the added benefit of having gone through a validation process. This demands much of the leadership, but, if observed widely, will enable sectoral interests to be more accurately represented in the formulation of the national position and will certainly improve understanding and perhaps generate more acceptance of the widely misunderstood workings of the WTO.
The words of the Task Force chair summarize well the benefits of the TF-WAR mechanism:
This process is transparent, fully participatory beyond being merely informative or consultative. It also resulted in positions and evaluations that fully reflect the concerns and ambitions of stakeholders with full confirmation by the government. More important, positions have greatly benefited from the widest possible political support. In the Uruguay Round, the Philippines was an insignificant ‘follower’ and ‘take-it-or-leave-it-but-has-no-choice-but-take-it’ country. Its negotiators suffered the humiliation of waiting outside the small select group ‘green rooms’. It never could claim any intellectual contribution to the negotiations. The concessions it obtained and the commitments it made were condemned and repudiated by the stakeholders although sustained by the country’s political leaders. Now, the Task Force has turned all of that around and much more. The country is now in an infinitely better position to influence the negotiations in accordance with its national interests.
The TF-WAR mechanism has its limitations and constraints. It has proved, however, that stakeholder participation in the trade negotiations process has no substitute in terms of accurately and effectively harnessing the insights, concerns and ambitions of civil society in a developing country context. It is cost-efficient, effective and gives flesh to real democratic governance in action.
1.- National Statistical Co-ordination Board, National Income Accounts 1st Quarter 2004, available at www.nscb.gov.ph.
2.- 2001 data for agro-based products, 2002 Philippine Statistical Yearbook, National Statistical Co-ordination Board.
3.- National Income Accounts 1st Quarter 2004.
4.- V. Bruce Tolentino, Cristina David, Arsenio Balisacan and Ponciano Intal Jr, ‘Strategic Actions to Rapidly Ensure Food Security and Rural Growth in the Philippines’, 29 March 2001, as cited by Walden Bello, ‘The WTO and the Demise of Philippine Agriculture’, Focus on the Global South, 20 June 2003.
5.- Issued by the Office of the Secretary, Department of Agriculture, 28 Sept. 1999.
6.- Original members included: from the government, the National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAFC), Minimum Access Volume (MAV) Secretariat, DA Planning and Monitoring Service. From the private sector, representatives from the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers, National Onion Growers Co-operative, Philippine Association of Hog Raisers, Inc., Federation of Free Farmers, Coffee Foundation of the Philippines, National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc., Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. From the NGOs, the following were represented, Sanduguan, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka, CODE-NGO, Philippine Business for Social Progress. Membership expanded to include the grain, sugar, poultry and fishery sectors. The last eventually formed their own task force as fishery negotiations are being conducted separately in the WTO.
7.- Special Order No. 450, issued by the Office of the Secretary, September 2001.
8.- Issued by the Office of the Secretary, Department of Agriculture.
9.- Such as joining the G20 (Group of 20) or organizing the SP and SSM (Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism) Alliance.
10.- The guidelines state that ‘in deciding the level of confidentiality to be accorded an information, the body shall judiciously consider the twin issues of the right to public information and national security — to strike a balance between safeguarding the basic right of people to public information on matters of public concern and access to official records, on the one hand, and the need to protect vital secrets and information affecting national security and interest, on the other…. Any breach of faith regarding a commitment to confidentiality is ground for removal of membership from the Task Force…. Task Force may take legal action against the offending party’, Department of Agriculture, Guidelines for Confidentiality, March 2000.
11.- Special Products (SP) is a new concept introduced in the current Round and agreed by Members as a modality for further elaboration in the recently adopted framework agreement for the famous July 2004 Package. It is a special and differential treatment (SND) mechanism providing flexibility for developing countries in recognition of the inherent difficulties they face in implementing their WTO commitments, and a way of addressing the food security, livelihood security and rural development objectives aimed at by the Doha Development Agenda. Under the SP, developing countries will have less onerous commitments in reducing barriers for certain sensitive products, the number and modality of which are to be agreed.
12.- The July 2004 Package also specifies that a special safeguard mechanism (SSG) will be established for use by developing countries. The modality is yet to be developed in the next phase of negotiations.
13.- For example, sugar and food processing, corn and livestock/poultry.
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