World Trade Organization (WTO)
WTO Doha Round Bulletin
Week ending 16 April 2004 (Issue 2004/10)
The Easter period resulted in a 12 day break in formal meetings in Geneva, providing an opportunity to take stock of the status of negotiations in the Doha Round and to prepare for forthcoming meetings. This week’s bulletin provides an overview of developments thus far this year.
Following the appointment of new chairs for the Doha Round Negotiating Groups in February 2004, meetings (suspended since Cancún) recommenced in Geneva in March 2004 in a positive and constructive atmosphere. WTO members have reaffirmed their commitment to the Round and to work towards agreement on frameworks for negotiating modalities on agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) by the end of July 2004.
However, the key to moving forward in the negotiations continues to lie in progress on agriculture, which is a priority area for many WTO members, particularly developing countries. A successful outcome on agriculture will depend upon securing the necessary political commitment to reform in states that maintain high levels of support and protection. Australia and the Cairns Group will continue to urge these members to make genuine commitments in the agriculture negotiations. A further special session of the Agriculture Committee will take place in Geneva next week from 20-23 April.
The NAMA negotiations recommenced on a positive note with a focus on informal discussions but there has been little movement in members’ positions. Many developing countries continue to link progress in NAMA with progress in agriculture.
The treatment of the Singapore issues (investment, competition policy, trade facilitation and transparency in government procurement) on the Doha agenda is still being considered by WTO members. A consensus appears to be emerging amongst both developed and developing WTO members that negotiations on trade facilitation could commence, whilst the others may be handled differently. While it is likely that investment and competition policy will be looked at outside of the single undertaking, the EU position on government procurement is still unclear. Developing countries continue to actively reject negotiations on this issue. Greater clarity of the EU position is sought in order to avoid the Singapore issues again becoming a stumbling block for the Round.
Negotiations on services have been progressing steadily. By April 2004, 42 offers had been made, covering 57 WTO members (the EC offer also covers the 15 EU members), and accounting for roughly 90% of services trade. The pace of the services negotiations has slowed since Cancún and it is unlikely that momentum will be restored until progress is made in other areas of the negotiations.
19 Committee on Trade and Environment – Special Session
19 Committee on Safeguards
19-21 Textiles Monitoring Body
20-21 Committee on Anti-Dumping Practices – Working Group on Implementation
20 Dispute Settlement Body
20 Committee on Agriculture – Special Session
20 Committee on Trade and Environment
21-22 Trade Negotiations Committee
22-23 Committee on Anti-Dumping Practices
23 Committee on Government Procurement
23 Committee on Agriculture – Special Session
26 Negotiating Group on Rules
27 Council for Trade in Goods
28 Dispute Settlement Body – Special Session
29-30 Working Party on the Accession of Saudi Arabia
29-30 Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures
30 Dispute Settlement Body – Special Session
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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.