World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 12 November 2004 (Issue 2004/39)

Key Issues

Australia: Building momentum in WTO Agriculture Talks

On 3-4 November Australia convened a meeting of key negotiators and international agricultural trade analysts in Canberra. Negotiators participating in the meeting were drawn from Cairns Group and G20 member countries. The objective of the meeting was to explore the challenges confronting the current negotiations and to investigate how best to use agricultural trade research to support and promote ambitious negotiating outcomes.

The meeting identified a number of priority areas for research to address technical issues and longer term barriers to reform. Agriculture is a critical and sensitive area of the WTO Doha round. In developing countries, agriculture typically accounts for over half of total employment and a relatively large share of GDP. Levels of support provided by developed countries have distorted global trade in agriculture and impacted negatively on economies of developing countries.

The current phase of Doha negotiations is focussing on interpretation of the numerous technical issues underpinning the July framework agreement. Outcomes achieved in the agriculture negotiations should support development and poverty reduction goals of the Doha Development Agenda. It is hoped a follow-up meeting will be organised in the near future.

Export subsides in Developing Countries: Extension

The WTO Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures has extended the transition period for the elimination of export subsidy programmes of 19 developing countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Jamaica, Jordan, Mauritius, Panama, Papua New Guinea, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Uruguay until the end of 2005.

The WTO Subsidies Agreement provides for an eight year transition period for most developing countries to eliminate export subsidies. Under the “fast-track” procedures agreed at Doha, the Subsidies Committee may grant annual extension to these countries until end 2007, subject to annual review of transparency and standstill obligations.

Negotiating Group on Rules

The WTO Negotiating Group on Rules met 1-3 November to continue detailed examination of anti-dumping, subsidies and fisheries subsidies proposals. Four detailed anti-dumping papers were submitted by the United States (on mandating the use of preliminary determinations), Canada (on explanation of determinations and decisions through public notices) and the Friends of Anti-Dumping Negotiations (on amendments to the threshold for initiation and completion of investigations; and comparison between domestic and export prices at the same level of trade).

On fisheries subsidies, the focus of discussion was a new paper from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, New Zealand, Philippines and Peru elaborating the so-called 'top down' (in which subsidies would be prohibited with exceptions negotiated) approach proposed in New Zealand's April 2004 paper. There is, as yet, no agreed way forward for constructing additional disciplines for fisheries subsidies. Support is building for a broadly based prohibition on fisheries subsidies with (potentially substantial) negotiated exemptions, but distant water fishing countries (Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei) continue to press for a 'bottom up' which under only particular (harmful) subsidies would be prohibited.

Although still at an impasse as to the structure of a new discipline, the November discussions were useful in bringing more of the underlying technical issues to the fore. Whichever approach is adopted, there will be challenges in determining the types of subsidies which should be exempt from prohibition - particularly as fisheries subsidies similar in design can have markedly different impacts (eg on trade or resource sustainability) depending on how and where they are applied.

Many issues have yet to be discussed in detail, including whether the new discipline would encompass subsidies to aquaculture as well as wild capture fishing, whether subsidies exempt from prohibition would nevertheless remain actionable under the ASCM, and how subsidies provided by developing countries with major fishing industries (eg China and Chinese Taipei) would be treated.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

NOVEMBER

15 Negotiating Group on Trade Liberalisation

16 Committee on Trade and Development

18 Committee on Agriculture

18 Textiles Monitoring Group

18 Working Party on the Accession of the Russian Federation

19 Committee on Agriculture - Special Session

19 Committee for Trade in Goods - Dedicated Session

22 Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration

22-23 Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation

22 Working Party on Domestic Regulation

23 Committee on Trade in Financial Services

23 Committee on Safeguards

24 Working Party on GATS Rules

24 Dispute Settlement Body

25 Committee on Specific Commitments

25 Council for Trade in Goods

25-26 Dispute Settlement Body - Special Session

26 Committee for Trade in Services

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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