World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 1 July 2005

Key Issues

APEC Trade Ministers agree on NAMA formula

At a summit on 2-3 June in Jeju, Korea, Trade Ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries, which account for nearly half of both the global population and world trade, endorsed the “Swiss formula” for calculating tariff reductions in non-agricultural market access (NAMA). A simple Swiss formula would reduce high tariffs more significantly than low tariffs and would reduce tariffs below a ceiling equal to the coefficient used in the reduction formula. The Ministers also called for all tariff lines to be capped and for currently unbound tariffs to be subject to the Swiss formula.

Mr Vaile welcomed the agreement, predicting it would "inject new momentum" into the talks at the WTO.

NAMA Negotiations: building on the APEC statement

The Negotiating Group on NAMA, covering industrials, minerals, energy, fisheries and forestry products, last met from 6 to 10 June 2005. Discussions focussed on the tariff reduction formula, non-tariff barriers (NTBs), treatment of unbound tariffs and a methodology to convert non- ad valorem tariffs to ad valorem equivalents (AVEs).

Following the 2-3 June 2005 APEC Trade Ministers statement, the weight of opinion has shifted towards the simple Swiss formula approach. However, Argentina, Brazil and India continue to push for an alternative Swiss-type formula that would set a different ceiling coefficient for each Member based on its overall average bound rate, resulting in higher tariff Members having a higher ceiling.

The APEC statement was also effective in increasing support in the negotiating group for the principle of binding all tariff lines and making them subject to the tariff reduction formula while recognising the need to address some Members' concerns regarding the treatment of low unbound lines.

The discussions on AVEs were also positive – it is expected that agreement on an appropriate conversion methodology should not present a major hurdle to the NAMA negotiations.

The next NAMA meeting is scheduled for 4-8 July, at which Members are expected to continue discussions on recent formula proposals, treatment of unbound tariff lines, and to continue examination of NTBs proposed by Members for addressing within NAMA negotiations. It is expected that the Chair will also use the meeting to assist in the preparation of his draft contribution to the July “first approximations”.

Agriculture: picking up the pace

Agriculture negotiations Chair, Tim Groser (New Zealand), continued his efforts to pick up the pace of progress by holding a series of informal consultations in June with key players on major issues facing the negotiations. These included export competition (State Trading Enterprises (STEs), food aid and export credits), Special Products, trade distorting domestic support, the Blue Box (which links subsidies to programs that limit production), preferences and tropical products.

The meetings produced some convergence on the broad structure for dealing with domestic support, but made less headway on the other core issues of export competition and market access. During the meetings, the EU tabled a series of new papers on STEs, food aid and export credits that had been agreed with EU member states, all of which will require further consideration. The Cairns Group also held a useful technical exchange on the export competition issues.

Following these meetings, Groser issued a “status report” on 27 June in an effort to identify and seek guidance on the key issues still to be addressed in order to help reach a “First Approximation” on modalities by the end of July. The report will help to focus discussion during the next agriculture week to be held in Geneva from 4-8 July and in preparation of the initial draft of the “First Approximation” to be considered by Ministers when they meet at an informal meeting in Dalian, China on 12-13 July.

Services offers continue to be lodged

In accordance with the May timeframe, 17 WTO Members have lodged revised offers on trade in services. Australia's revised offer was lodged on 26 May, with its contents outlined in the last edition of this Bulletin. We are pleased to advise that a number of outstanding initial offers also have been lodged, including several of particular interest to Australia, namely the Philippines and Brunei (meaning that all ASEAN WTO Members have now lodged offers) and Pakistan. This brings the total of initial offers lodged to 68, covering 93 WTO Members.

Another negotiating session on services began in Geneva on 20 June and will conclude on 1 July. Australia will be meeting bilaterally with a number of trading partners to discuss in detail the offers made to date. Although the timeframe for lodging revised offers was May, we expect additional offers to be tabled at the Council for Trade in Services when it meets during the week of 27 June. The focus for this negotiating session will be on how to deliver substantive outcomes on services for the Hong Kong Ministerial meeting in December 2005. WTO Members are currently examining the offers made to date (both initial and revised) and will be making an assessment of their value for the "first approximation" in July of expected outcomes for the Hong Kong Ministerial. There is considerable work to be done by WTO Members if we are to deliver on the objective of creating new business opportunities for services exporters in the Doha Round.

During the current negotiating session on services, we will take advantage of the presence of relevant officials from Vietnam to negotiate further on the services commitments Australia is seeking as part of Vietnam's bid to join the WTO.

Trade Facilitation Negotiations Make Further Progress

The negotiating group on trade facilitation met on 13-14 June to consider nine new proposals covering transparency, import and export procedures, documentation, risk management and freedom of transit. A notable feature of the meeting was the number of statements by Members sharing their national experience on different aspects of trade facilitation, including papers by Japan on risk management; by Taiwan on express consignments; and by Norway on border agency cooperation with Sweden and Finland.

Discussion of special and differential treatment, technical assistance and capacity building was wide-ranging but inconclusive. There was in-principle support for the suggestion by Latin American countries that Members undertake national “self-assessments” to identify trade facilitation needs and priorities. However, such assessments would need to be closely linked to the commitments under consideration, which are not yet clearly defined. Developing countries repeated calls for more resources to be devoted to technical assistance and for greater coordination between donor agencies.

As directed by the Chair at the last meeting, the Secretariat circulated a compilation of proposals received from Members on how to clarify and improve GATT Articles V, VIII and X. The proposals are grouped thematically under 13 principal headings: publication and availability of information; time periods between publication and implementation; consultation and commenting on new and amended rules; appeal procedures; impartiality and non-discrimination; fees and charges; formalities connected with importation and exportation; consularisation; border agency coordination; release and clearance of goods; tariff classification and goods in transit.

The compilation will be revised and updated as the negotiations progress.

The Chair of the negotiating group (Ambassador Noor of Malaysia) indicated that he would deliver a progress report on the negotiation to Ministers in Dalian, China, rather than attempt to come up with a “first approximation” by July. He expressed the hope that Members could secure agreement at the December Hong Kong ministerial meeting on the elements of an agreement on trade facilitation, with detailed negotiating and legal drafting to take place in 2006.

TRIPS Council meeting: new papers submitted

At the recent TRIPS Council meeting held on 14 and 15 June, a number of new papers were submitted on the TRIPS and CBD issue. This led to more substantive engagement and discussions from all sides, but the wide gap in member states views remains. There was no progress on the amendment to the TRIPS Agreement to give effect to the August 2003 General Council decision on TRIPS and public health.

At the TRIPS Special Session discussions on the negotiation of a wine and spirits register held on 16 and 17 June, the EC tabled a paper on geographical indications (GIs). The EC re-introduced this paper at the consultations held on GIs extension. This document highlights the extent of the EC’s ambitious GI agenda.

WTO Informal Ministerial meeting: Dalian, China, 12-13 July 2005

On 12-13 July, China will be hosting an informal meeting of WTO ministers in Dalian. The meeting will aim to further clarify the ‘roadmap’ for negotiations in the lead-up to the Sixth WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005. This will be the fourth time this year that ministers have met to move the discussions forward, following one such meeting at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in January, another in Mombasa in March and another at the sidelines of the OECD annual meeting in May. Around 30 delegations have been invited by the Chinese, including the EU, US and Australia.

NGO registration open for Hong Kong Ministerial Conference

Details of how NGOs can register to attend the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, 13 to 18 December 2005.

Requests for registration must be received by 29 July 2005 (midnight, GMT). After that date, the on-line form will be closed and requests for registration will no longer be processed.

More on the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

July

1 Council for Trade in Services - Special Session

4 Negotiating Group on Market Access

4 - 5 Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance

5 Trade Policy Review Body - Philippines

6 Committee on Trade and Environment

6 Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology

7 Trade Policy Review Body - Philippines

7 - 8 Committee on Trade and Environment - Special Session

8 Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries

11 - 12 Committee on Regional Trade Agreements

11 - 12 Negotiating Group on Rules

13 Committee on Trade and Development - Dedicated Session

15 Council for Trade in Goods

18 - 22 Committee on Government Procurement

18 - 22 Negotiating Group on Market Access

19 Committee on Balance-of-Payments

20 Committee on Trade and Development

20 Dispute Settlement Body

21 - 22 Trade Negotiations Committee

25 - 26 Negotiating Group on Rules - Regional Trade Agreements

25 - 26 Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation

26 - 28 Trade Policy Review Body - Egypt

27 - 29 General Council

28 - 29 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 email trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

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