World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 1 August 2007

This bulletin, summarising key WTO Doha Round-related activities, is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Key Issues

Overview

On 17 July the Chair of the agriculture negotiating group, Crawford Falconer, and the Chair of the NAMA negotiating group, Don Stephenson, released their draft negotiating texts in Geneva in an effort to move the Round forward. WTO Members held initial discussions of the texts during the week of 23 July. While many Members had concerns with various elements of the texts – especially the NAMA text – there was broad agreement that the texts provided a basis on which to continue the negotiations.

Minister for Trade Warren Truss welcomed the texts as an important attempt to move the Doha negotiations forward while noting there were elements Australia did not support, including proposals on NAMA tariff cuts and State Trading Enterprises, and that further work was needed in the key area of agricultural market access. Mr Truss said Australia would take every opportunity to register its concerns as part of the consensus-building process. He said Australia remained strongly committed to doing all that was possible to achieve an ambitious outcome in the Round this year.

Members agreed to recommence negotiations on the agriculture text from early September in Geneva, with negotiations on the NAMA text to restart mid-September.

Agriculture

The release of the draft negotiating text on agriculture was welcomed by Cairns Group members as a good starting point for re-engagement, although the Group reiterated its call for an ambitious outcome, which provides commercially-meaningful market access opportunities.

Reflecting the Cairns Group’s commitment to improved market access in the negotiations, on 11 July the Group released a paper on market access into developed countries. In the paper the Group clarifies that a substantial outcome on market access in line with the Doha mandate will require:

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)

The draft text proposed a range of numbers for the developed and developing country Swiss formula coefficients, which will determine market openings for non-agricultural goods. Members provided initial reactions at a meeting on 25 July. Statements by most developing countries, including the NAMA-11 group (including India, Brazil and South Africa), strongly re-affirmed previous calls for awider gap between what was being asked of developed and developing countries. In contrast, developed countries continued to seek a smaller gap, to ensure the creation of new trade flows.

Separately, a proposal on procedures for the facilitation of solutions to disputes about non-tariff barriers was submitted to the Negotiating Group jointly by a number of developed and developing countries.

Services

The Chair of the Services Negotiations recently concluded his series of meetings with Heads of Delegation (HODs) in Geneva. Members reaffirmed their commitment to a meaningful outcome for the services negotiations and a successful conclusion of the Round. Members continue to hold meetings in Geneva and to undertake domestic consultations in capitals to prepare for revised offers.

At the last HODs meeting on 19 July Australia emphasised that we were not prepared to accept a minimal outcome to the services negotiations and that we would need to see quality commitments creating new, commercially-meaningful opportunities.

The next services cluster is scheduled 17-28 September, followed by the third dedicated meeting of the Review of the Air Transport Annex to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (and associated industry seminar) on 1-3 October.

Members have continued their negotiations on domestic regulation and discussions of the draft text circulated by the Chair of the Working Party on Domestic Regulation in April. The Chair will hold consultations on 11-12 September.

Trade and Environment

Members continue discussions in the Committee on Trade and Environment Special Session (CTESS) on principal issues mandated for negotiation under paragraph 31 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration. The July meeting of the CTESS considered a Chair's paper on information sharing and observership. The next CTESS meeting is scheduled for the week beginning 1 October.

Trade Facilitation

The Trade Facilitation Negotiating Group (NGTF) held discussions on all aspects of the negotiating mandate in a new week-long format from 16-20 July. A new proposal on special and differential treatment (SDT) and technical assistance and capacity building (TACB) was submitted by the Core Group of Developing Countries, the ACP Group (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries), the African Group and the Least Developed Countries Group (TN/TF/W/147). The meeting also discussed new proposals on advance rulings from Turkey (TN/TF/W/120 Rev.1) and on risk management from China (TN/TF/W/198).

There was detailed discussion of previously submitted proposals including India’s proposal on customs compliance cooperation (TN/TF/W/123), Canada’s proposal for border agency cooperation (TN/TF/W/128), and the proposal by Korea, Singapore and Thailand on a single window facility for submission of trader’s documentation (TN/TF/W/138 Rev.1). Consideration was also given to ways in which elements of similar proposals under GATT Articles VIII and X could be consolidated. The group will next meet 1-3 and 8 October.

WTO Rules

Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Fisheries Subsidies

The Rules Negotiating Group met 9-12 July. Further to its anti-dumping paper presented at the June session, the United States tabled draft text on ‘zeroing’ (a methodology used to offset non-dumped transactions when calculating dumping margins). The draft text (TN/RL/GEN/147) seeks to reverse the outcomes of WTO disputes on the matter by allowing zeroing in the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement. The US indicated that an outcome on zeroing was integral to an outcome in the Rules negotiations.

China tabled two anti-dumping papers on standing (proposing amendments to the legal standard for domestic industry to bring an anti-dumping application) and sunset reviews (proposing automatic termination of anti-dumping measures after a specific time period).

The Technical Group on Exporter Questionnaires, established to examine practices of Members on anti-dumping investigations in relation to documentary requirements, also met during the Rules week. It focussed on Member practices dealing with confidentiality issues, in particular the submission of, and access to, confidential data and how Members use constructed export prices.

Indonesia submitted a comprehensive fisheries subsidies proposal (TN/RL/GEN/150) which mirrored some other proposals such as those by Argentina, Brazil and the US. The paper calls for a comprehensive prohibition on fisheries subsidies with general exceptions. It also introduces or develops issues relating to special and differential treatment, a fisheries ‘adverse effects’ concept, technical assistance and recourse to fisheries expertise.

The Chair also continued his ‘brainstorming session’ on special and differential treatment for developing countries and specifically, the handling of artisanal and small-scale fisheries under future disciplines.

WTO Meetings in Geneva (as at 31 July 2007)

August

31 - Dispute Settlement Body

September

Early - Negotiating Group on Agriculture

Mid - Negotiating Group on NAMA

17 & 19 - Trade Policy Review - Panama

17-28 - Services Weeks

24 - Rules (trade remedies, fisheries subsidies) Week

25 - Dispute Settlement Body

Contact Us:

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221
Fax: (02) 6261 1858

or email trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

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