World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 19 November 2004 (Issue 2004/40)

Key Issues

APEC Ministers committed to moving Doha Round forward

The APEC Ministerial Meeting in Santiago, Chile (17-18 November) has called on WTO Members to maintain a high level of ambition in the Doha Round negotiations. Ministers fully endorsed the July Framework Package, which they described as a "breakthrough" in the negotiations.

The APEC Ministers agreed that a successful conclusion to the Doha Round would "strengthen the multilateral trading system and promote economic growth and poverty reduction, particularly amongst developing economies". They reaffirmed the importance of flexibility and capacity building to help developing countries participate fully in the WTO negotiations.

The Ministerial Statement also welcomed the launch of negotiations on trade facilitation (see next Bulletin item). Ministers said that clearer rules in this area would reduce uncertainty, costs and delays, and therefore provide more competitive import and export conditions for industry and business. APEC economies have a great deal of experience in improving trade facilitation measures, and will seek to contribute their knowledge to the WTO negotiations.

Ministers agreed that, at their next meeting in Korea in mid-2005, they will review progress in the WTO negotiations and "provide clear guidance to negotiators regarding preparations and objectives" for the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005.

The 21 APEC economies account for 47 per cent of world trade and more than 60 per cent of global GDP. APEC comprises both developed and developing countries.

The full text of the Ministerial Meeting Statement

Mr Vaile's comments on the meeting.

Trade facilitation: first meeting of the Negotiating Group

The WTO Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation met for the first time on 15 November.

The Group was established as a result of the July Framework Package, which added trade facilitation - one of the four 'Singapore Issues' - to the Doha work program. The aim of trade facilitation negotiations is to further expedite the movement, clearance and release of goods between WTO Member states.

At the meeting, Members agreed on a work plan and a schedule of meetings for the first half of 2005. The work plan lists all the elements contained in Annex D of the July Package, comprising:

The Group also agreed to invite international organisations - the IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, World Customs Organization and the World Bank - to attend meetings on an ad hoc basis, to share their expertise with WTO Members.

The Negotiating Group will meet regularly during the first half of 2005. The next meeting will take place on 22-23 November 2004.

Market access for non-agricultural goods

The Negotiating Group on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) met in Geneva on 8-11 November. At the opening of the meeting, Members discussed the organisation of the Group's work program, particularly whether work on sectoral tariff initiatives should take place in parallel with the Group's work on a non-linear formula for reducing tariffs across the board. While no conclusions were reached, at the closing session Members agreed that the next two meetings (6-8 December and from 31 January) should begin considering a range of technical issues from the July Package on the basis of a list to be prepared by the Chair.

The Group made a start on these technical issues at the meeting, considering the treatment of non-ad valorem duties and unbound items, conversion of existing tariff schedules to HS2002 nomenclature and data availability. On non-tariff barriers, Members reviewed a number of new notifications and considered a paper from Korea on non-tariff barriers in the electronics sector. Delegations also took the opportunity to hold bilateral and plurilateral consultations in the margins of the meeting. In particular, Hong Kong China, Canada and the United States hosted a well-attended plurilateral on sectoral initiatives, focussed largely on experiences from the Uruguay Round and the Information Technology Agreement.

Forthcoming meetings in Geneva

NOVEMBER

22 Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration

22-23 Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation

22 Working Party on Domestic Regulation

23 Committee on Trade in Financial Services

23 Committee on Safeguards

24 Working Party on GATS Rules

24 Dispute Settlement Body

25 Committee on Specific Commitments

25 Council for Trade in Goods

25-26 Dispute Settlement Body - Special Session

26 Committee for Trade in Services

29 Trade Policy Review Body - Brazil

29 Council for Trade in Services - Special Session

29 Committee on Balance of Payments

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

30 Working Party on the Accession of Yemen

30 Council for Trade in Services

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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