World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 15 October 2004 (Issue 2004/35)

Key Issues

Agriculture update

Delegations met in Geneva on 6-8 October for the WTO Agriculture Special Session. Discussions focused on management and organisation of the work program for the coming year. In plenary meetings at the session, members discussed some of the technical aspects of the July framework agreement, including the Green Box, export credits, food aid, the conversion of ad valorem tariffs and a Special Safeguards Mechanism. Members canvassed the extent to which the Harbinson text of 2003 should form the basis of substantive negotiations. Although Members spoke in favour of retaining various parts of the Harbinson text, no consensus emerged on this point.

During the week, Australia convened several meetings of Cairns Group members, who engaged in a useful dialogue covering all of the technical issues on the agenda.

The Chair of the Agriculture Committee, New Zealand’s Tim Groser, announced his decision to extend the next Special Session to the whole of the week 15-19 November. The final Agriculture Special Session of the year will be held on 13 December.

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations

The WTO Negotiating Group on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) met in Geneva on 4 October. This was the first meeting of the Group since the adoption of the July framework package, which mandated continued work on a non-linear (or "harmonising") formula for tariff reductions on industrial products. Discussions were positive and forward-looking, with Members generally supporting an early resumption of substantive work on modalities, particularly the formula, and associated technical issues. Members also reaffirmed the priority accorded to work on non-tariff barriers, noting that the newly-established Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation would have an important role to play in addressing many of the restrictive border measures previously notified to the NAMA Group. The next meeting of the NAMA Group is scheduled for 8-10 November.

WTO Membership expands

Cambodia became the 148 th member of the WTO on 13 October 2004. This brings the number of least-developed countries in the WTO to 32. Another 24 countries have lodged applications and are currently negotiating membership, including Russia, Vietnam and Libya.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

OCTOBER

18 Dispute Settlement Body

19 Committee of Participants on Expansion of Trade in IT Products

20-21 General Council

21 Committee on Rules of Origin

21 Council for Trade in Goods Dedicated Session

22 General Council – Coherence

22 Dispute Settlement Body – Special Session

22 Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology

25 Trade Policy Review Body – European Union

25 Committee on Customs Valuation

25-26 Committee on Safeguards

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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