MJIEL Vol 6 Issue 3 2009 - A3

Abstract: Disagreement over the special safeguard mechanism (SSM), which would permit developing countries to raise tariffs on certain agricultural products in case of import surges or price declines, has placed the Doha Round in a state of uncertainty. The primary issue of contention is the availability and functioning of the SSM when the remedies authorized by the SSM surpass countries’ binding tariff commitments. This article demonstrates that countries, including China, that have many products bound at low tariff rates and have little water between their pre-Doha bound rates and their applied rates, would be the largest beneficiaries of provisions allowing SSM remedies to exceed pre-Doha bound rates. Other countries, such as India, would rarely need to go above pre-Doha bound levels when applying the additional SSM duty to the applied tariff rates of most products. This is because 1) most of these countries’ products contain a large amount of water and 2) the few products they have with little water will likely see large increases in the separation between pre-Doha bound rates and applied rates after the Doha Round tariff cuts. The most recent draft modalities text would place the same limitations on the number of products that could go above the pre-Doha bound rates on countries like China as it would on countries like India, even though China has many more tariff lines that would require access to remedies above pre-Doha bindings. Permitting countries with many products containing little water and bound at low levels to benefit from greater access to remedies above the pre-Doha bound level than countries with fewer of these products could aid in the successful completion of the Doha Round. 


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