WTO Doha Round Bulletin, May 2010
This bulletin, summarising key WTO Doha Round-related activities, is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
On May 27, Mr Crean hosted a meeting of Trade Ministers in the margins of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) in Paris to further progress the Doha Round. The meeting brought together key players — including the US, EC and India. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy also participated. There was unanimous determination to proceed to a conclusion of the Round. There was also recognition from a number of countries that 2011 will be an important window for seeking to achieve this.
On the way forward for the negotiations, Ministers recognised that while significant progress has been made in the negotiations to date (including in areas such as services, trade facilitation and rules issues), the current package has to be improved to conclude the Round. Members will need to think creatively about new approaches. As Mr Crean said at the final OECD press conference “Agriculture and NAMA are still the core issues but it's also understood that the mechanism that has given us the ability to look at the horizontal approach enables us to deal with other outstanding issues as well, in particular, services.” The horizontal process refers to the need for political engagement across all the negotiating issues.
Ministers will have their next opportunity to continue building momentum for the Round at the APEC Trade Ministers meeting on 5-6 June in Sapporo, Japan and at the G20 Leaders meeting in Toronto on 26-27 June.
During the two-day OECD MCM (27-28 May), Mr Crean also chaired the ministerial trade discussion on “Sources of Growth” and was a panellist on the forum on “Trade, Jobs and Innovation”. One of the key messages Mr Crean delivered was that job creation and sustainable economic growth are some of the main benefits of boosting global trade. He emphasised the need to keep liberalising trade and not revert to protectionism as well as the contribution of international trade and investment to the global economic recovery and sustainable economic growth. Mr Crean said “trade is an economic stimulus that does not cost the budget, hence the very strong support for concluding the Doha Round”.
On 3 May, WTO Agriculture Chair, David Walker, held his first meeting since the March stocktake. The discussions focused on taking forward the technical work on data and templates and establishing a clear process for engaging on outstanding modalities issues.
Further meetings were then held in the week of 17 May, which focused on the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) as well as further discussions on data and templates. The SSM discussion focused on the need to design a mechanism that responded to legitimate concerns of importers without impeding demand induced trade. A paper tabled by Australia and Canada has effectively underlined the need for a targeted SSM. The EU gave a useful presentation on a ‘road map’ for work ahead on schedules and supporting tables in the market access pillar. The presentation provided delegations with a clear understanding and picture of future work.
A series of meetings on non-tariff measures (NTMs) was held during the week of 17 May. The meetings were held in a small group format, with the NAMA Chair, Luzius Wasescha distributing a number of questions on the key proposals under discussion prior to the meetings as a means of focussing attention on the major issues of contention. The proposals offer the prospect of creating a more streamlined method of dealing with disputes and creating a more transparent approach to applying international standards in trade in sectors including chemicals, electronics and electrical goods and autos.
In May Members continued their ongoing consultations in relation to the services work program. Australia continues to strongly reiterate the need for Members to consider new approaches and ideas to increase industry support for a strong services outcome to the Doha Round. In particular, we continue to seek support for co-sponsorship of Australia’s new plurilateral (sectoral) collective request on accountancy services with a view to commencing negotiations with recipients in October. This will complete the suite of professional services plurilateral requests and should serve to inject some momentum into the negotiations.
No new developments.
At the latest Rules Negotiating Group session (29 April – 7 May 2010), the outgoing Rules Chair Guillermo Valles-Galmes provided his reflections on how he thought the trade remedies issues could be pursued following completion of first reactions to his revised draft text of December 2008. On anti-dumping, he encouraged Members to continue to explore technical solutions, including focussing on possible legal drafting and looking at various alternative solutions. He also suggested that the Group should keep meeting in different configurations and continue to have investigating authorities close to the process.
The Chair provided similar reflections on negotiations on horizontal subsidies. He suggested that Members should table proposals on any issues that have not yet been raised as part of a ‘bottom-up’ approach. Members completed a first exploration of possible transposition of the Chair’s un-bracketed revised draft text of the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement into the countervailing context of the Subsidies Agreement. Members identified possible areas where language could be harmonised between the two agreements or where proposed amendments to the Anti-Dumping Agreement could be transposed to the Subsidies Agreement. The Chair encouraged Members to continue this process with a view to possible legal drafting
On fisheries subsidies, the Chair cautioned Members that in terms of ambition in these negotiations, if sights are lowered too far, it could result in an outcome which was contrary to the negotiating mandate. Members continued consideration of new proposals that have been tabled since completion of the Chair’s roadmap process at the end of December 2009. Views were exchanged on a new proposal on special and differential treatment for developing countries. It provides extensive exceptions to the prohibition on fisheries subsidies for developing countries and allows for high seas fishing subsidies. Members also provided preliminary reactions to a proposal on fisheries adverse effects and fisheries management.
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