WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 9 April 2004

This bulletin, summarising key WTO Doha Round-related activities, is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

WTO Negotiations on Non-Agricultural Market Access

The Negotiating Group on Market Access, which handles the negotiations on non-agricultural market access (NAMA), also known as industrial products, met in Geneva from 29-31 March. This meeting relaunched the NAMA negotiations following the Cancn Ministerial Conference and was overseen by the new Negotiating Group Chair, Ambassador Stefan Johannesson of Iceland. The Negotiating Group adopted a new meeting format, focusing on informal consultations, coupled with brief formal plenary sessions at the beginning and end of the meeting.

During discussions, WTO members signalled they are committed to reaching agreement on a framework on negotiating modalities for NAMA by the end of July. Discussions, which were positive and constructive, were based on the Derbez text released during the Cancún Ministerial Meeting last year, and no new proposals were made. Issues discussed in the informal consultations included members' overall goals for the negotiations, possible formula approaches to tariff reduction, flexibility or special treatment for developing countries, sectoral initiatives for tariff reductions, and reductions in non-tariff barriers, but informal discussions were exploratory and no conclusions were reached. Progress in NAMA is seen to be linked to progress in the agriculture negotiations, with many developing countries unwilling to discuss liberalisation commitments ahead of movements in agriculture.

The next meeting of the Negotiating Group is scheduled for 10-12 May.

Australia launches freer freight initiative

Australia launched a freight logistics proposal during the Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services held in Geneva on 2 April. The initiative advocates the negotiation of legally-binding commitments under the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Trade commitments in freight logistics create a drive toward efficient supply chains and improve market access for Australian exporters in the same way as does reducing tariffs or expanding quotas.

The proposal takes a whole-of-supply-chain' approach to the movement of freight, rather than focusing on specific transport modes or on particular facilities, thus recognising the interdependent and critical nature of each link in modern, complex supply chains.

The initiative was co-sponsored by Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Switzerland and Taiwan, and attracted considerable interest and initial support from other members.

A copy of the proposal can be accessed at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/negotiations/services/logistics_services310304.html .

A copy of Trade Minister Mark Vaile's media release can be accessed at: http://www.trademinister.gov.au/releases/2004/mvt021_04.html .

World Trade recovers in 2003

The WTO released its latest figures on world trade and global output this week. According to WTO economists, world trade recovered at an increased rate in 2003, and could expand even further in 2004 should the global economy continue to improve.

A 2.5 per cent increase in global output in 2003 saw world trade expand by 4.5 per cent (up from a 2.5 per cent increase in 2002). According to the WTO, world trade could expand by a further 7.5 per cent in 2004, with global economic growth tipped to reach 3.7 per cent.

According to WTO Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, despite the positive news the pace of trade growth remains uneven and there remain many barriers to trade globally ΔΆ if [the global economy's] potential is to be realised the many trade distortions that exist must be addressed, and the best way to do that is to bring about a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda.

A full version of the WTO's press release can be accessed at: http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres04_e/pr373_e.htm .

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva


Contact Us

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
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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