WTO Doha Round Bulletin, February 2011

Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

February 2011

This bulletin, summarises key WTO Doha Round-related activities and developments since the beginning of the year.

Doha-related meetings in Davos, Switzerland

In November 2010, G20 and APEC Leaders recognised that 2011 presented a critical window of opportunity to conclude the Doha Round and demonstrated that there was the political will for this to be achieved.

In January Trade Ministers met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland using this opportunity to renew their commitment to finish the Round this year and take the practical step of discussing how this objective could be met.

Dr Emerson attended an informal EC-hosted dinner on the Round with ministers from Brazil, China, EU, India, Japan and the United States, and also joined a group of around 20 trade ministers at a Swiss-hosted meeting on Doha. Ministers renewed their commitment to conclude the Round in 2011. There were positive signs that a political deal was achievable, although ministers recognised the need for continued intensification of work in Geneva to achieve this.

Key Developments in Geneva

Agriculture

The latest round of agriculture negotiations was held in Geneva 7 – 17 February 2011, following meetings in December and January. In the latest round of negotiations there was a growing sense among Members of the need to make progress on outstanding issues, and as a result of this there was more substantive engagement on key issues. The next round of agriculture negotiations will be held in Geneva in early March.

NAMA

The NAMA negotiating group met in January and February to advance discussions on both non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and sectoral tariff liberalisation. The Chair convened smaller groups to advance discussions on cross-cutting NTB proposals, such as proposals concerning transparency and consultation mechanisms for addressing trade problems. Sectoral tariff liberalisation proponents continue to meet with potential participants bilaterally. In particular, there has been further discussion on potential flexibilities that might be required for key developing countries to join sectoral tariff elimination initiatives. Further progress in this area will be important in determining the prospects of concluding the Round this year.

Trade Facilitation

Work is intensifying on trade facilitation, with the recent Negotiating Group meeting on 14-18 February continuing the review of draft consolidated text. This meeting followed intensive small-group open-ended meetings held in Geneva which sought to streamline text on individual proposals. Australia is a co-sponsor and facilitator of the Advance Rulings proposal and has taken a lead role in narrowing differences on this issue.

Services

As part of the broader effort to seek to conclude the Doha Round, WTO Members reconvened in Geneva in January and February to intensify negotiations on services. Australia has worked closely with the US, EU, Japan and Canada to identify what is needed from other Members to achieve a satisfactory package on services and brought together a group of 30 key members (S30) in February to discuss this. The meeting focused on where Members anticipated the need for flexibility in regard to elements identified as important to a final package. Members have expressed a willingness to participate in the detailed negotiations on services market access that are necessary to conclude the round.

As well as the S30 plurilateral meeting, the February services cluster focused on bilateral negotiations on commercial presence and the movement of natural persons, as well as on the telecommunications, computer and audiovisual services sectors. Negotiations in March will focus on Modes 1 and 2, professional and business services and logistics and supply chain services. The April meetings will focus on tourism, construction, energy, environmental, financial and agricultural services.

Informal discussions on domestic regulation during February provided a starting point for intensified negotiations on this important area of the negotiations. Members agreed to commence drafting groups in order to develop a bracketed text on which to negotiate further.

Trade and Environment

Consultations on trade and environment were held most recently on 14-18 February in Geneva. Some progress has been made, although there are key outstanding issues still to be resolved. Members are exploring text on the relationship between the WTO and multilateral environmental agreements (MEA), and possible approaches that might be adopted to liberalise environmental goods and services.

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