World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 16 January 2004 (Issue 2004/1)

Key Issues

USTR Zoellick writes to WTO Trade Ministers

On 11 January, United States Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, wrote to all WTO Trade Ministers [ PDF ] outlining his “common-sense approach” to advancing the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Zoellick said that the US does not want 2004 to be a lost year for the Round, sending a clear and strong signal that the US intends to remain an active participant, despite it being a Presidential election year.

In his letter, USTR Zoellick suggested a back to basics focus on market access, especially for agriculture, goods and services, recognising these areas offer the most significant gains both for the world economy and individual economies. He recognised that an ambitious outcome on agriculture remains the key, especially given the importance of the sector to many developing members. He called for an end date certain for export subsidies, a substantial decrease in trade-distorting domestic support and a substantial increase in real market access opportunities for both developed and developing economies.

USTR Zoellick proposed an ambitious blended formula approach to industrial tariff reductions and suggested that non-tariff barriers will also need to be addressed. For services Zoellick called for more meaningful services offers from a majority of WTO members, noting that technical assistance for developing Members may be necessary in order to help those members make meaningful offers.

USTR Zoellick emphasised the importance of incorporating special and differential treatment to ensure the varying circumstances facing developing countries are recognised. In terms of the Singapore Issues, Zoellick suggested proceeding with negotiations on trade facilitation, whilst exploring further the level of interest in transparency in government procurement and either dropping or studying further the issues of competition and investment. A further summary of the Zoellick letter can be obtained from

Australia welcomes US push for new effort on World Trade Reform

Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, released a statement on 15 January in which he welcomed proposals by the United States to advance the Doha Round. Mr Vaile stated that the Zoellick letter sends a strong signal of US commitment to moving Round forward and he was pleased the US was focussing on market access, recognising that an ambitious result on agriculture, as well as goods and services, is essential for the negotiations to proceed.

Mr Vaile took the opportunity to endorse US recognition for the need to eliminate export subsidies. He cited the US letter as containing useful suggestions on how the negotiations should proceed. Like the United States, Australia agrees that 2004 must not be a lost year and we stand ready to work with others to advance the negotiations.

Speech by EU Trade Commissioner Lamy

Speaking to the European Parliament on 13 January, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, said the EU was ready to modify its approach on the Singapore issues, including removing as many as four from the single undertaking and allowing Members to decide for themselves whether they enter into such agreements. Lamy also stated the EU has adopted a more flexible approach to geographical indications and environment, but made it clear the EU wanted both issues to remain up for negotiation.

On agriculture, Lamy said the EU was ready to negotiate seriously, including negotiating a list of products of interest to developing countries for which the EU would be willing to end export subsidies. The EU will also pursue an ambitious approach to cotton as well as in industrials. Lamy stressed that the EU would be looking to others also show a greater degree of flexibility. Lamy described the WTO as being in far better shape than at the end of Cancún to resume negotiations, although he felt that only the EU was “almost alone” in showing any signs of flexibility towards the Round. He called for others to be flexible.

Lamy said the EU would seek alliances with the United States, Japan and other key members of the WTO in 2004 in order to advance the Round. The EU would also continue its dialogue with developing country members, especially the G-20 –which he described as essential to the negotiations. He said the EU expects the G-20 to contribute constructively to the negotiations over a full range of issues and not remain in a purely defensive alliance on agricultural issues. Lamy said he was confident that was real progress is achievable in 2004, if WTO Members wanted it. He said the first milestone for 2004 would be to get, by March/April, to where Members should have been at the end of Cancún –i.e. to have agreements on the modalities for agriculture, industrials, the Singapore Issues etc.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

JANUARY 2004

20-22

Textiles Monitoring Body

21-22

Working Party on the Accession of Saudi Arabia

23

Dispute Settlement Body

26

Council for Trade in Goods

26-27

Dispute Settlement Body –Special Session

27

Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance

28

WTO Introduction Day

30

Working Party on the Accession of Belarus

Contact Us

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221
Fax: (02) 6261 3514
or e-mail trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

This bulletin is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It summarises key WTO Doha Round-related activities over the past week.

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