World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

Week ending 1 July 2007

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

Key Issues

Overview

The breakdown of the G4 (EU, US, Brazil and India) talks in Potsdam on 21 June was a significant setback for the Round. Minister for Trade Warren Truss met separately with the EC Commissioner for External Trade, Peter Mandelson, and the US Trade Representative, Susan Schwab, immediately following the breakdown to canvas next steps and to reiterate Australia’s commitment to finding a way forward as soon as possible.

In the wake of the breakdown, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy told an informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting on 22 June that while a G4 breakthrough would have been “helpful” it was not “indispensable”. Mr Lamy urged all Members to now engage fully in the multilateral process in Geneva, and stressed the need for urgent action.

The chairs of the Agriculture and NAMA negotiating groups are expected to issue draft negotiating texts soon and these texts will likely then become the focus of discussions in Geneva. Australia continues to push for the texts to be ambitious and for the negotiations to be concluded this year.

Agriculture

The Cairns Group has continued to meet regularly to develop positions on a number of issues raised in the Agriculture Chair’s reference papers of April/May. In mid-June, the Group released new negotiating proposals on the Special Agricultural Safeguard (SSG) and Monitoring and Surveillance. The proposal on the SSG called for its full elimination. The proposal on Monitoring and Surveillance is aimed at improving transparency and compliance and facilitating clear and timely notifications in the areas of domestic support, market access and export competition.

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)

The NAMA negotiating group met during the week beginning 4 June. Discussions focussed on the formula, with no new proposals on sectorals and non-tariff barriers (NTBs). A statement by the NAMA-11 group of developing countries (including Brazil and South Africa) reaffirmed previous calls for awide gap between commitments for developed and developing countries. In contrast, developed countries continued to push for a significantly more ambitious outcome, to ensure the creation of new trade flows.

Discussions also took place at the Ministerial level, at Potsdam, where NAMA emerged as the stumbling block in meetings between the G4 group of countries (US, EU, Brazil and India).

Services

Services negotiations continued in Geneva throughout the month of June. A meeting of the Committee on Trade in Services in Special Session on 8 June focused predominantly on Members assessing the current state of the services negotiations, and the best way to organise work on the way forward. A proposal to raise the quality of offers to that commensurate in other areas of the negotiations was presented during the session. The proposal sought a statement of willingness by Members to commit to improve offers and specifically bind national treatment regimes. It remains on the table.

Notwithstanding the breakdown of the G4 talks in Potsdam, another Heads of Delegation sectoral discussion went ahead on 26 June where Members discussed improving the quality and depth of their services offers. Australia strongly pursued our sectoral interests in legal, environmental, air transport architecture, engineering and integrated engineering, construction and financial services. It is clear that gaps remain between requests and responses. In all but a couple of sectors, gaps are substantial. A further HODs sectoral exchange is foreshadowed for July.

Australia continued to participate in negotiations regarding possible rules on the domestic regulation of services.

Intellectual Property

TRIPS Council was held on 5 June. The inclusion on the agenda of enforcement was again controversial, with some developing countries resisting it, while several developed countries welcomed the information in Switzerland’s paper on border enforcement. Perhaps reflecting the difficulties of the broader Doha Round, other key discussions were limited to a restatement of well-known positions, including on the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and on geographical indications.

The Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement

Following the tabling of the Protocol in Parliament on 9 May, the Department appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) at a public hearing on 18 June. Representatives from the Department of Health and Ageing and IP Australia also attended as formal witnesses. If approved by JSCOT and Parliament, Australia can formally accept the Protocol after September 2007. For the Protocol to enter into force, it must be accepted by two-thirds of WTO Members before December 2007.

Trade and Environment

Members continue discussions in the Committee on Trade and Environment Special Session (CTESS) on principal issues mandated for negotiation under paragraph 31 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration. The June meeting of the CTESS considered an Indian/Argentinian proposal on environmental goods (Job(07)/77); and a Chair's paper on information sharing and observership. The next CTESS meeting is 18-19 July.

Trade Facilitation

The work of the Trade Facilitation Negotiating Group is intensifying. The focus of the group’s meeting on 7-8 June was on the special and differential treatment (SDT) and technical assistance and capacity building (TACB) aspects of the negotiations. There was also discussion of recent proposals on national enquiry points, internet publications, and expedited shipments, as well as previously submitted proposals. The group will next meet 16-20 July.

WTO Rules

Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Fisheries Subsidies

The 11-15 June session of the Rules Negotiating Group was dominated by two new papers from the United States on anti-dumping and subsidies issues. The US anti-dumping paper on ‘zeroing’ (a methodology used to offset non-dumped transactions in comparisons of domestic and export prices when calculating dumping margins) calls for a full examination of the issue given the ongoing WTO disputes and evolving reasoning of the Appellate Body. It effectively proposes the reinstatement of zeroing in the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement. The US stressed the importance it attached to an outcome on this issue and foreshadowed that it had legal text which it intended to table at the July session.

The US also tabled a subsidies proposal on expanding the categories of prohibited subsidies in the WTO Subsidies Agreement (TN/RL/GEN146). It proposes that a number of subsidies included in the now-lapsed Article 6.1 of the WTO Subsidies Agreement be moved into a prohibited category of subsidies with additional subsidy types (such as loans to uncreditworthy companies and equity financing inconsistent with usual investment practice of private investors).

Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei submitted a joint revised fisheries subsidies framework proposal (TN/RL/GEN/114/Rev.2). It calls for a relatively narrow prohibition on certain types of fisheries subsidies and proposes excluding small-scale fishing which it defines by boat length.

The ACP Group (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries) also submitted a paper on fisheries access fees. Proposals submitted to date by WTO Members have generally excluded government-to-government access fee payments from the proposed coverage of disciplines on fisheries subsidies. The ACP proposes that the onward payment of those access fees to fishing fleets should also be excluded from any fisheries subsidies disciplines.

WTO Meetings in Geneva (as at 30 June 2007)

July

9 - Council for Trade in Goods

9-13 - Rules (trade remedies, fisheries subsidies) Week

16-20 - Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation

18-19 - Committee on Trade and Environment Special Session

18 & 20 - Trade Policy Review – Bahrain

23-24 - Committee on Regional Trade Agreements - examination of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement

24 - Dispute Settlement Body

25-26 - General Council

August

31 - Dispute Settlement Body

Contact Us:

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221
Fax: (02) 6261 1858

or email trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

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