World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

April 2009

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

G20 Leaders in London on 2 April highlighted their concerns about protectionism and recognised the importance and urgency of concluding the WTO Doha Round. In the Communiqué, G20 Leaders stated their commitment to "reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Round, which is urgently needed" and "to building on progress already made, including with regard to modalities". Leaders agreed a concluded Doha Round could boost the global economy by at least US$150 billion.

G20 Leaders said they would use their "continuing work and all international meetings that are relevant to drive progress" in the Doha Round. They also endorsed the WTO's monitoring of trade and trade-related measures, agreeing to "notify promptly the WTO of any such measures" and calling on "the WTO, together with other international bodies, within their respective mandates, to monitor and report publicly our adherence to these undertakings on a quarterly basis".

Australia played a key role in achieving this strong statement by G20 Leaders and will continue to press WTO Members to act on the Leaders' commitment to conclude the Doha Round as soon as possible.

Agriculture

Crawford Falconer will step down as Chair of the Agriculture Negotiations in April. Ambassador Falconer has been Chair since 2005, when he became New Zealand's Ambassador to the WTO.

Originally scheduled to end in December 2008, Ambassador Falconer's term in Geneva was temporarily extended into 2009 to allow him to continue negotiations on the latest version of his revised draft agriculture modalities text (released in December 2008). He will now return to Wellington to take up the position of Deputy Secretary at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

A decision on a new Chair of the Agriculture Negotiations will be decided by the WTO membership in the next few weeks.

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)

NAMA Chair Luzius Wasescha held technical consultations in May to advance discussion of non-tariff measures (NTMs). There was a detailed and useful discussion of the various proposals on the table from Members, including the proposed horizontal mechanism for considering NTMs. The Chair may call a further technical discussion in April.

Services

Members met in Geneva for the first round of services meetings for 2009 from 30 March to 6 April. This followed earlier consultations by the Chairs of the various services subsidiary bodies from January to March, including those undertaken by the Services Chair Fernando de Mateo.

The next Council for Trade in Services in Special Session (CTSS) will discuss how to take forward the "roadmap" based on the Chair's services text. Apart from setting a date for submission of revised offers, other elements of the roadmap include bilateral and plurilateral (sectoral) market access negotiations, development of domestic regulation disciplines and other GATS rules, technical assistance and how to address least-developed country (LDC) needs. In keeping with that guidance, Members are likely to seek to re-engage in both plurilateral and bilateral negotiations. In the CTSS, Members will address the development of appropriate mechanisms for according special priority to LDCs.

Australia continues to press our market access priorities across the negotiating agenda. We will also progress our interests in domestic regulation disciplines. Australia is seeking strong disciplines which build on GATS Article VI (Domestic Regulation). To that end, we aim to ensure that Member's qualifications and licensing requirements are no more burdensome than necessary and are not disguised restrictions on trade.

Intellectual Property

On 11 March, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy held an informal consultation on two TRIPs issues whose relevance to the Doha Round is contested. Discussions focused on the desire of some Members to amend TRIPs to extend the higher level of protection given to wines and spirits geographical indications (GIs) to GIs for other products. Also discussed was the requirement to disclose the source of any genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge used in inventions.

The next such consultation is scheduled for 8 April to clarify Members' views on issues related to these topics.

Trade and Environment

No new developments.

Trade Facilitation

No new developments.

Rules - Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Fisheries Subsidies

The negotiating session held in Geneva from 30 March to 1 April focussed on fisheries subsidies. WTO Members commenced working through the questions posed by the Rules Chair Guillermo Valles-Galmes in his December 2008 Roadmap, starting with the scope of the proposed prohibition.

The Chair called on Members to use the Roadmap to spark a dynamic and interactive debate and to deepen substantive engagement. He hoped that this would generate new inputs which would enable him to produce a revised draft text in due time. The Chair stressed that the Roadmap was to give a clear structure to discussions but it was not intended to foreclose consideration of any issue.

The informal 'Friends of Fish' group, of which Australia is a member, delivered a joint statement which highlighted the need for a strong prohibition of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. The statement also noted that there should be limited and targeted exceptions to the prohibition.

The next session of the Rules Negotiating Group has been scheduled for the week of 11 May.

WTO Meetings in Geneva

Full schedule of upcoming WTO meetings

Contact Us:

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221

Fax: (02) 6261 1858

or e-mail trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

[More WTO Doha Round Bulletins]