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The World Trade Organisation - An Australian Guide
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Download the PDF version of this guide here

WTO & Non-Agricultural Market Access

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) is the name given by the WTO to attempts to reduce trade barriers in all sectors not included in agriculture or services negotiations. The US and the EU are pushing for large concessions in NAMA negotiations, but there are serious concerns that it tariff reductions under NAMA will adversely effect developing countries and the environment (69).

For developing countries, tariffs provide a means to protect and promote domestic industries and local employment. Tariffs also provide a direct source of revenue for developing countries. Every developed country has used tariff walls to build up their domestic industries before exposing them to international competition (70).


"It will be workers in the South and in the North who will be the losers if deep liberalisation of manufacturing goes through: job losses and worsening working conditions are the likely outcomes."
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (71)

Since developing countries have higher average tariffs than developed countries, drastic tariffs cuts proposed in the NAMA negotiations will remove the flexibility and space developing countries need to use tariffs as an instrument for development. NAMA negotiations could deny this opportunity to billions of people in poor countries, causing "deindustrialisation" in the developing world and risking permanent poverty in many places.

Working hand in hand with the EU and US are many big business lobby-groups from the manufacturing, retail and other sectors. In forestry for example the US and New Zealand proposal for tariff reductions includes explicit reference to their work with the forestry industry.

NAMA and the Environment

In NAMA negotiations, all natural resources are effectively on the table for either partial or complete liberalisation, with a particular focus at the moment on fish and fish products, forests, gems and minerals. NAMA will lead to two new specific threats to the environment and local communities.

Firstly, tariffs help to protect fisherfolk who are essential to local economies and societies. In the case of fisheries, the proposed tariff reductions would increase incentives to fish internationally, especially for large commercial trawlers, which would fuel the continued exploitation of an already seriously depleted resource. Local fishers and poor fishing communities would increasingly suffer the impact of dying seas, as large commercial fleets take many of the highest quality fish. There is also a risk of cheap fish imports being dumped in coastal nations with a strong domestic market, such as Ghana and Cameroon, making it impossible for fishers to sell their catch locally. Similarly, even an impact assessment prepared for the European Commission states that developing countries with forest industries protected by high tariffs could "incur considerable environmental and social costs due to downsizing of the industrial capacity and closing some industries entirely" (72).

In addition to tariff cuts, NAMA negotiations are likely to be used to restrict the ability of governments to make legitimate environmental laws and regulations. Friends of the Earth International has identified 212 laws and regulations relating to the environment that have been notified by governments as "non-tariff barriers" to trade as part of the NAMA negotiations. These laws range include energy efficiency standards, building regulations and regulations to promote energy efficient vehicles (73).

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