World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 26 March 2004 (Issue 2004/11)

Key Issues

Agriculture Negotiations

WTO Members met in Geneva this week for the formal re-launch of agriculture negotiations following the Cancún Ministerial. Members adopted a new negotiating format focusing on informal bilateral and plurilateral consultations, coupled with brief formal plenary meetings on 24 March and 26 March.

During the week, Australia and other Cairns Group members met with the G20, the G10 (a group of developed countries with an anti-reform agenda on market access), G90 (a group including African-Caribbean-Pacific countries, least developed countries and the African Group), G33 (a group of developing countries championing special products and special safeguard mechanisms), the US, and the EU.

Agriculture is widely acknowledged as the key to getting the Doha Round negotiations back on track and without a meaningful commitment to agriculture liberalisation, progress in the Round is unlikely. All sides have now signalled their willingness to re-engage, and Members are actively working to reach agreement on a framework text on agriculture by mid-year.

Minister Vaile welcomes WTO Members’ commitment on agriculture

Trade Minister Mark Vaile today welcomed the broad commitment shown by Members in this week’s agricultural negotiating group meetings, but noted that “while the initial political signals are positive … nothing this week has suggested that it will be an easy task”. Mr Vaile highlighted the need for the European Union, the United States and Japan, as the major subsidisers of agriculture, to “show leadership and flexibility” in order to reach agreement on a framework this year.

Mr Vaile also welcomed the cooperation developing between the Cairns Group and the G20 group of developing countries. According to Mr Vaile, both groups recognise the “importance in these negotiations of a clear commitment to eliminate export subsidies on all products, as well as to substantially improve market access and reduce trade-distorting support”.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

MARCH

29-30 Workshop on Domestic Regulation

29-30 Committee on Regional Trade Agreements

29-31 Negotiating Group on Market Access

31 Working Party on Domestic Regulation

APRIL

1 Committee on Trade and Development – Special Session

1 Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration

2 Council for Trade in Services – Special Session

2 Committee on Market Access

7 Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights – Special Session

Contact Us

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221
Fax: (02) 6261 3514
or e-mail trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

This bulletin is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It summarises key WTO Doha Round-related activities over the past week.

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