World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 12 March 2004 (Issue 2004/9)

Key Issues

USTR Zoellick testifies before US Senate and House on WTO issues

United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick testified this week on WTO issues before the Committee on Finance of the United States Senate and the Committee on Ways and Means of the United States House of Representatives. During his testimony, Zoellick expressed cautious optimism over prospects for the Doha Round. He noted that his January letter seeking to move the Doha negotiations forward has been well-received, as had his recent round of meetings with representatives of over 40 countries.

Zoellick highlighted two steps that he regarded as vital to making notable progress over the coming months: firstly, reconciling the “Singapore Issues”by agreeing to focus solely on trade facilitation; and secondly, concentrating on the draft agriculture text to locate specific frameworks for reform. According to Zoellick, to “secure movement on agriculture, all countries will need to agree to eliminate export subsidies, including the subsidy element of credit, to end State Trading Enterprise monopolies, and discipline food aid in a way that still permits countries to meet vital humanitarian needs”.

Trade Policy Review of Sri Lanka

The Second Trade Policy Review (TPR) of Sri Lanka concluded last week, with members commending Sri Lanka for its steady economic growth and efforts to reduce its budget deficit, despite ongoing civil conflict. Members also noted Sri Lanka’s comparatively low applied tariff rates, as well as privatisation and public/private sector initiatives in the telecommunications, port and electricity sectors, and foreign investment liberalisation in the financial and telecommunication sectors. Some concerns were raised, including the level of transparency and predictability of Sri Lanka’s tariff regime, the need for greater diversification of exports and export markets, and the need for greater harmonisation of national and international standards. Sri Lanka advised it was seeking to diversify its export base and destinations and that it was committed to services liberalisation.

The WTO Secretariat concluded that Sri Lanka’s economic prospects were favourable, provided that peace and political stability were maintained and economic reforms continued.

Sub-committee on Least-Developed Countries considers Australia’s duty and quota free package

Australia notified its package of duty and quota free access for least-developed countries (LDCs) which came into effect on 1 July 2003, at the meeting of the WTO Sub-committee on LDCs held on 9 March 2004. Australia noted that the initiative set a very high standard, being comprehensive, with no products excluded and with no phase-in periods.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

MARCH

15-17 Textiles Monitoring Body

16-17 Negotiating Group on Rules

17-18 Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

19 Dispute Settlement Body

22 Committee on Specific Commitments

22-26 Committee on Agriculture –Special Session

23 Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade

23 Committee on Trade in Financial Services

24 Working Party on GATS Rules

25 Committee on Agriculture

25 Council for Trade in Services

25 Dispute Settlement Body –Special Session

29-31 Negotiating Group on Market Access

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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