World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 8 October 2004 (Issue 2004/34)

Key Issues

GATS negotiations: progress in September

At the latest cluster of services negotiations in Geneva (20 September-1 October), the mood was positive in the wake of the agreement on the July package. The negotiations were sharply focused on the requirement for outstanding initial offers on services to be submitted as soon as possible and for revised offers to be submitted by May 2005.

Four more countries tabled offers - Jordan, Kenya, the Dominican Republic and Gabon. This brings the total to 48 offers from 69 countries (taking account separately of the 25 EU members). Members who have already submitted initial offers are now revising them and prioritising their requests. There is broad agreement that new requests should be made by the end of December, so they can be reflected in improved offers in May 2005.

A number of developing countries called for greater liberalisation of the temporary entry of people. Some wish to regularise low-skilled workers who work abroad and remit money to their home countries. Others want to improve market access for service suppliers who travel abroad for short-term contract work. A paper produced by the Secretariat shows that the most common commitments to date cover intra-corporate transferees, business visitors, service salespersons, contractual service suppliers and installation and service personnel.

The next negotiating session is scheduled for 6 December. Meeting dates for 2005 have yet to be agreed.

Negotiating Group on Rules

The WTO Negotiating Group on Rules met in the week of 27 September to continue discussions on anti-dumping, subsidies and fisheries subsidies. Informal meetings also were held, complementing the formal discussions.

Two papers by the United States and three papers by like-minded countries (so-called 'Friends of Anti-Dumping Negotiations') on anti-dumping investigations served as the focus for both the formal and informal sessions. The papers covered: verification visits to companies by investigating authorities; the level of anti-dumping duties applied to exporters not examined during an anti-dumping investigation; the use of secondary sources of information by investigating authorities; and definitional issues.

Japan also presented a paper on fisheries subsidies, elaborating on an earlier proposal for a 'bottom up' approach to disciplining subsidies. Japan's proposed 'green box' would exempt the majority of fisheries subsidies from discipline, including many which would arguably be actionable under the existing Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. Japan's 'red box' would be confined to very limited cases, such as subsidies to assist fishermen to re-flag their vessels for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Japan's paper was strongly criticised by meeting participants.

New Zealand continued to seek a broad 'top down' approach on fisheries subsidies, prohibiting all subsidies save for negotiated exemptions. There was in-principle support from a number of delegations. Prior to the meeting, New Zealand hosted a workshop, in which Australia participated, involving 'Friends of Fish' and experts from the OECD and WWF.

Whichever form of discipline emerges, certain types of subsidies - eg, fisheries research and management expenditure - will almost certainly be exempted from prohibition. Whether such subsidies should be actionable under the subsidies agreement is yet to be discussed.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

OCTOBER

11 & 13 Trade Policy Review Body - Norway

12 Trade Negotiations Committee

12-13 Textiles Monitoring Body

12-13 Committee on Trade and Environment - Special Session

14 Committee on Trade and Environment

14 Working Party on the Accession of Azerbaijan

15 Committee on Rules of Origin

18 Dispute Settlement Body

19 Committee of Participants on Expansion of Trade in IT Products

20-21 General Council

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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