World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

1 November 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

Negotiations continued in Geneva in an attempt to close the gaps in WTO Members’ positions in relation to the negotiating texts on agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA). It is expected that the negotiating group Chairs will circulate revised draft texts in mid to late November, which will be the subject of further discussions.

The key to a breakthrough remains the three core issues of agricultural market access, agricultural domestic support and NAMA. Greater certainty from the EU and other importers on the market-access outcome on a product-by-product basis, combined with movement by the US on domestic support and a more realistic position from key developing countries on NAMA, will be essential if progress is to be made before the end of the year.

Intensive TRIPS (intellectual property) negotiations were also conducted in October to begin a draft Chair’s text. This text is expected to be ready in December.

Agriculture

Agriculture discussions resumed in early October, with an intensive three-week period of senior officials, G12, Cairns Group and technical meetings to review the Agriculture Chair’s text.

Progress on market access continues to lag that in other pillars (export competition and domestic support). The shape of an outcome on developing country market access is particularly underdeveloped.

Throughout the consultations, the Agriculture Chair, Crawford Falconer, urged Members to find their own compromises ahead of his preparation of a revised text. Falconer indicated that negotiators would need to show considerable new flexibility before the current set of talks conclude on 2 November.

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)

Discussions on the draft negotiating text continued throughout October, with most developing countries arguing that the draft text should be changed to impose lesser reductions on them. The NAMA-11 group (including India, Brazil and South Africa) was particularly vocal in seeking more concessions for developing countries. Developed countries stressed the need for cuts to developing country tariffs to be large enough to generate new trade flows. Meanwhile, various countries submitted proposals addressing specific concerns held by recently-acceded Members, small and vulnerable economies, and countries within customs unions. Discussions are expected to continue in November in the lead up to a revised text being issued by the Chair later in the month.

Services

Following the last round of plurilateral (collective) services negotiations in Geneva in September, WTO Members’ attention turned to the development of a services text.

In October, the Chair of the negotiating group on Services commenced consultations with the Membership with a view to securing agreement on the basic elements of such a text. Australia is working hard to achieve commercially meaningful result on services. We believe the time is right for Members to give serious consideration to what is required to ensure that the services outcome will be commensurate to what it finally agreed on agriculture and NAMA. We have therefore welcomed these initial discussions of possible elements of a services text.

Intellectual Property

Discussions at the 23-24 October meeting of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council) focused on biodiversity, public health, technical assistance on IP, technology transfer to least-developed country (LDC) Members and enforcement. The meeting was dominated by a discussion of Article 66.2 and 67 reports (technology transfer to least-developed country (LDC) Members and technical cooperation) and an exchange of questions on communications on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Council also agreed to extend the deadline for the period for acceptance of the Protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement

Technical Assistance and Technology Transfer

Several developed country Article 67 and Article 66.2 reports received close scrutiny, from some developing country Members. These Members argued that a number of the listed activities were either not ‘technical assistance’ or ‘technical transfer’ within the meaning of Articles 67 or 66.2 and should therefore not be included in the reports.

TRIPS / CBD

Peru submitted a communication: “Combating Biopiracy – The Peruvian Experience” IP/C/W/493, documenting 5 alleged cases of ‘biopiracy’ involving plant species which are indigenous to Peru. Japan also submitted a communication: “The Patent System and Genetic Resources” IP/C/W/504 (both documents are available from http://docsonline.wto.org). Japan’s paper examines databases as a means of improving information provided to patent offices regarding patent applications, thereby helping to reducing the number of erroneously granted patents.

Enforcement

Japan also circulated a communication providing information on Japan’s IP rights border measures and the operation of Japan Customs (IP/C/W/501, available from http://docsonline.wto.org). The inclusion of enforcement as a standing item on the TRIPS Council agenda has not been agreed and continues to be controversial, particularly among some developing countries.

Public Health

Members agreed to a two year extension to the period for acceptance of the Protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement. The Protocol seeks to improve access for least-developed and developing countries to cheaper versions of patented medicines needed to address public health problems (such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and other epidemics). To date 11 Members (including Australia) have accepted the Protocol. For the Protocol to enter into force, it must be accepted by two-thirds of the WTO’s 151 Members. On 4 October, the Canadian Government notified the WTO that it had authorised a company to make a generic version of a patented medicine for export under the terms of the interim waiver (that the Protocol will formalise). This follows Rwanda’s 17 July notification to the WTO that it intends to use the waiver to import pharmaceuticals.

Transitional Review of China

The US, EC and Japan asked China a number of questions under the Transitional Review of China’s Accession to the WTO. Their questions and China’s response are also available at http://docsonline.wto.org.

TRIPS Implementation Reviews

The TRIPS implementation reviews of Vietnam and Tonga have been scheduled for 2008.

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. A formal meeting of the CTESS will take place on 1-2 November, continuing on from October's small working group consultations.

Trade Facilitation

The Trade Facilitation Negotiating Group (NGTF) held discussions on all aspects of the mandate on 1-3 October. The meeting considered revised proposals on publication and availability of information (by Japan, Mongolia and Switzerland – TN/TF/W/114/Rev.1); on prior publication and consultation (by Hong Kong China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia and Switzerland – TN/TF/W/115/Rev.1); and on a cooperation mechanism for customs compliance (by India – TN/TF/W/123/Rev.1). The issue of special and differential treatment (S&DT) continued to be a focus of discussion. The group will next meet on 5-9 November.

WTO Rules

Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Fisheries Subsidies

The Rules Negotiating Group met from 24-28 September and 15-19 October. On anti-dumping, Members continued discussing the implications of WTO dispute findings on ‘zeroing’ (a methodology used to offset non-dumped transactions when calculating dumping margins). A proposal by Egypt aimed at clarifying rules in relation to the assessment of dumping was considered. The US has previously indicated that an outcome on zeroing is integral to an outcome in the Rules negotiations.

On fisheries subsidies, Indonesia submitted further revisions of its proposals (TN/RL/GEN/150/Rev.1 and Rev.2). The second revision reintroduced a prohibited subsidies category and an ‘illustrative list’ of actionable subsidies with deemed ‘serious prejudice’. Argentina and Brazil submitted a joint proposal focusing on Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT), which combined elements of both Members’ previous proposals on this issue and sought to introduce terms such as ‘maximum sustainable yield’ in relation to sustainability criteria.

The Chair indicated he intends to table his text on Rules before the next Rules Week, scheduled for 3-7 December.

WTO Meetings in Geneva (as at 31 July 2007)

1-2: CTESS

5-9: Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation

5-9: Negotiating Group on Market Access (NAMA)

5 & 7: Trade Policy Review – Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

14: Committee on Trade and Development Dedicated Session

19: Dispute Settlement Body

21-21: Aid for Trade Summit

23: Council for Trade in Goods

26 & 28: Trade Policy Review - Thailand

December

3: Rules (trade remedies, fisheries subsidies) Week

10 – 12: Trade Policy Review – Turkey

19 – 20: General Council Meeting

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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