World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 13 February 2004 (Issue 2004/5)

Key Issues

Australia’s Ambassador to the WTO, David Spencer, appointed Chair of the Dispute Settlement Understanding Review

David Spencer, Australia’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was appointed as chair of the organization’s Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) Review at the General Council meeting of 11 February. The DSU Review is one of the special negotiating groups under the purview of the Trade Negotiations Council. It is responsible for negotiating improvements and clarification of the organization’s dispute settlement processes. Ambassador Spencer replaces Ambassador Peter Balás (Hungary) and is expected to serve in the position until the 6th Ministerial Conference. Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, also issued a press release last week, welcoming the appointment.

WTO General Council meets for first time in 2004

The WTO General Council met for the first time this year on 11 and 12 February. Japanese Ambassador Shotaro Oshima was appointed Chair of the General-Council, replacing Perez del Castillo from Uruguay, who received a series of tributes for the tremendous and tireless efforts he contributed to the Doha round over the past twelve months. The General Council also elected the new chairs for the other WTO bodies, including the negotiating groups – which will focus on the key issues identified by Director-General Supachai and Castillo at the December meeting.

Iraq’s request for observer status to the WTO was also approved by members, with a number of countries, including Australia making statements welcoming Iraq’s observer-status. Australia also commented on the WTO-related training it has provided to a number of WTO members and that the Government would be discussing with Iraqi officials how Australia might similarly assist Iraq. A special delegation from the Iraqi Ministry of Trade was invited to address the General Council and welcomed this first step on the road to eventual WTO membership.

USTR Zoellick seeks to advance the Doha Round

In a follow-up to his 11 January letter to WTO members, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick, this week commenced travel to a number of capitals around the world to discuss progressing the Doha round. On 11 February he visited Tokyo. At a press conference he said that Japan had expressed a strong interest in moving the round forward. He also mentioned that the US was ready to eliminate export subsidies and make drastic cuts in other subsidies, but couldn’t do this if others, such as Japan and the EU, did not also cut subsidies and open their markets further. Zoellick also said that others also needed to demonstrate leadership and responsibility to progress the round.

Speaking in Beijing on 12 February, Zoellick said China’s influence is felt throughout the trading system, and that it was fully engaged with WTO implementation and the reform efforts associated with accession. His discussions with Vice Premier Wu Yi reinforced to him China’s strong desire for a substantial result in agriculture as well as in manufactures. Zoellick said the US and China have agreed to have a follow-up dialogue on a number of different issues, including Singapore issues, as a means of working together to find a way forward in the round.

Zoellick travelled to Singapore on 13 February where he intends to meet with most ASEAN members. He will also meet with Ministers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Following Singapore, Zoellick will travel through South Asia, Africa and Europe before returning to the United States. He will also attend the Cairns Group meeting to be held in Costa Rica on 23-25 February.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva


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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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