World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 28 January 2005

Key Issues

WTO - Minister Vaile attends informal Ministerial gathering in Davos

Trade Minister Mr Vaile is attending an Informal Gathering of WTO Ministers in the margins of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, on 29 January. Ministers will address two agenda items - ‘taking stock of the WTO negotiations' and ‘mapping the road to Hong Kong'.

Mr Vaile will continue to press trade ministers at the meeting to commit to finalising the Doha round of trade negotiations as quickly as possible. He will stress the need for real agricultural reform, particularly in the EU, US and Japan. A credible outcome on agriculture is key to completing the round, and agriculture remains a major sticking point in the negotiations.

Ministers at the gathering will also give consideration to preparations for the 6 th WTO Ministerial Conference, to be held in Hong Kong (13-18 December 2005).

WTO Services Cluster meeting

The next services cluster will be held in Geneva from 7 to 25 February 2005. The first week will focus on the work of the subsidiary bodies, while the other two weeks have been reserved for bilateral consultations and meetings of the various friends groups, including a seminar on maritime services. It will be recalled that the WTO July Package called for revised offers to be tabled by May 2005 and for Members that have not yet presented initial offers to do so as soon as possible. At this cluster Australia will be holding quite a number of bilateral meetings, to purse our requests for better market access for Australian service exporters. Our focus will be on our major trading partners in Asia. This will also include negotiations on the further requests we made of 24 Members in December 2004.

Fifty members (seventy one if the EC25 is included) have made offers to date, the latest Member being Egypt which made an offer in December 2004. Australia is hoping that other significant developing country Members will make initial offers during this cluster. Australia's main priority at this cluster will be to hold bilateral services negotiations with our major trading partners in the lead up to revised offers. We will also be emphasising the need for good quality offers to be tabled in May to give substance to negotiations leading up to the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting in December 2005.

WTO Reform - Report of Consultative Board

On 17 January, a Consultative Board convened by WTO Director General Supachai and former GATT Director General Sutherland released its report entitled "The Future of the World Trade Organisation". The Sutherland Report (as it is also known) recommends reforms to many areas of the multilateral trading system, ranging from: preferential trade agreements; dispute settlement; dialogue with civil society; coordination and coherence with other international organisations; globalisation; and organisational changes, including the role of the Director-General and WTO Secretariat.

Australia welcomed the release of the report, underlining the report's recommendation that the WTO would benefit from greater involvement by all WTO ministers.

Australia supports the call by the report for strengthened rules on free trade agreements (FTAs) to ensure that FTAs are negotiated and implemented in a way that complements WTO trade liberalisation.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

January - February

31 - 4Negotiating Group on Market Access

7 - 11 Negotiating Group on Agriculture

7 Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation

7 - 9 Services Meeting

9 Trade Policy Review Body - Sierra Leone

9 Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation

9 Committee on Trade in Financial Services

11 Committee on Agriculture - Special Session

11 Council for Trade in Services

14 Trade Negotiations Committee

15-16 General Council

16 Sub-Committee on Cotton

17 - 18 Committee on Regional Trade Agreements

17 Dispute Settlement Body

17 - 18 Services Symposium

21 Council for Trade in Services - Special Session

21 - 23 Negotiating Group on Rules

21 & 23 Trade Policy Review Body - Qatar

21 - 22 Committee on Trade and Development

22 Committee on Trade and Environment

24 Committee of Participants on the Expansion of Trade in IT Products

24 - 25 Committee on Trade and Environment - Special Session

25 Council for Trade in Services - Special Session

28 Dispute Settlement Body - Special Session

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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