WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

February 2010

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

Negotiations on the WTO Doha Round are continuing in advance of a stocktaking meeting of senior officials in Geneva at the end of March.  WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told the General Council on 22 February 2010 that “although some progress is taking place, gaps remain”. The stocktake will provide an opportunity to discuss the remaining gaps in the negotiations.  Ministers agreed to the stocktaking meeting taking place during the Seventh Ministerial Conference in Geneva from 30 November to 2 December last year.

The stocktaking meeting will be followed in April by a Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting hosted by Uruguay in Punta del Este from 19-21 April.  Cairns Group ministers, as well as Ministers from the US, EU, China, India, Japan and Egypt, and Pascal Lamy, have been invited to this meeting.  This meeting will provide a useful opportunity to consider the outcomes of the stocktaking meeting and the next steps in the Doha negotiations.   

Agriculture

Negotiating sessions for agriculture continued in Geneva in February with further technical discussions on issues relating to the preparation of Doha Round schedules. These technical discussions will continue in March.

Agriculture Chair David Walker held discussions on outstanding modalities in February.  These consultations will continue in the first two weeks of March.  Issues to be considered include the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM), tariff quota creation and tariff simplification.

NAMA

The Negotiating Group on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) met in the week of 2-5 February 2010 to continue discussions on non-tariff barriers (NTBs).  The Chair convened small group discussions on autos, electronics, textile labelling, remanufactured goods and horizontal proposals.  The discussions were useful in identifying outstanding technical issues and considering further amendments to existing proposals.  The next meeting is scheduled for 15 March 2010.

Services

Australia played an active role in the WTO services negotiating cluster in Geneva from 1-11 February, continuing to work with likeminded delegations to build momentum to progress the services negotiations.  Australia met bilaterally with a number of key trading partners and participated in plurilateral meetings of sectoral proponents.  Discussion at these meetings centred on how best to contribute to the March stocktaking process to ensure progress in the negotiations to date was captured and gaps accurately identified. 

Australia also worked closely with domestic regulation demandeurs to refine the proposal we have collectively co-sponsored for disciplines in this area.  Some progress on technical issues was also made in the Working Party on GATS Rules and the Committee on Trade in Financial Services, where the basis for forward work programs was agreed. 

Rules

No new developments

Australia to join Advisory Centre on WTO Law

The Australian Government is committed to assisting developing countries participate in the open, transparent and rules-based global trading system of the WTO.  On 12 November 2009 the Government announced Australia would contribute A$3 million to the Advisory Centre on WTO Law (ACWL) - an intergovernmental Geneva-based organisation that provides subsidised legal services on WTO law to developing countries, including support in WTO dispute settlement proceedings.

The Government is proposing to build on its substantial contribution by becoming a Member of the ACWL, subject to the Government’s normal treaty making processes.  Membership will enhance Australia's trade and development profile with developing countries in the Asia-Pacific, African and Latin American regions.  By promoting more equitable access to the WTO system, including dispute resolution procedures, Australia will contribute to greater economic stability and global prosperity in line with our broader trade policy objectives.

Submissions on the subject of Australia's membership of the ACWL are invited to the Office of Trade Negotiations (trade.consult@dfat.gov.au) by Friday 19 March 2010.

WTO Meetings in Geneva

March 2010
1-12            Agriculture Negotiating Session
2-3              TRIPS Council
2-4              Rules Negotiating Session
4                 TRIPS Special Session
8-12            WTO Negotiating group on Trade Facilitation
10               Committee on Agriculture
12               Committee on Trade and Development
15               NAMA Negotiating Session
16-16           CRTA Meeting        
15-19           NAMA Negotiations
17-18           Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
19               Dispute Settlement Body
23-25           Committee on Rules of Origin
24-25           TBT Committee
Late March    Senior Officials’ Stocktake

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

or for more information visit our website: www.dfat.gov.au/trade or the WTO website: http://www.wto.org/

Previous WTO Doha Round Bulletins