World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

November 2008

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

Australia continues to work towards concluding the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round as soon as possible, particularly as a contribution to the global response to the international financial crisis.

The G8 Leaders’ Statement on the Global Economy of 15 October highlighted the determination “to intensify efforts to bring about a successful conclusion of the WTO negotiations with an ambitious and balanced outcome”. On 21 October, President Bush said that before he left office he was “going to press hard to make sure we have a successful Doha Round”. Australia is pushing for the meeting of G20 Leaders on 15 November in Washington to issue a call for trade ministers to meet urgently and finalise a Doha package this year.

At the officials’ level, meetings have been continuing in Geneva to try to resolve the outstanding issues. Agriculture Chair Falconer has continued to convene informal consultations on issues that remain outstanding in the agriculture negotiations. NAMA Chair Wasescha has held bilateral consultations with a range of WTO members to seek their views on the way forward in the NAMA negotiations. In early December, for the first time since the services signalling conference in July, services negotiating groups will be meeting on the broader services work program.

WTO Director-General Appointment

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy announced on 4 November that he intends to seek a second term as WTO Director–General. That commences the selection process of a new Director-General. Mr Lamy’s term as Director-General expires on 31 August 2009. Members have until 31 December 2008 to nominate other candidates, followed by a three month campaign period and then consultations by the General Council. After narrowing down the field of candidates, by 31 May 2009 the General Council Chair Bruce Gosper will recommend the General Council appoint the candidate most likely to attract consensus.

Agriculture

Throughout September and October, Agriculture Chair Crawford Falconer held informal consultations with selected countries on outstanding issues in the agriculture negotiations, exploring possible options. He also convened open-ended sessions to report on these consultations to the wider membership. Australia participated in most of Falconer’s consultations, including on the Special Safeguard Mechanism, tariff simplification, tariff quota creation, Sensitive Products and Green Box. Australia is also working closely with members of the Cairns Group on these issues. Falconer’s consultations will continue in November.

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)

In October, NAMA Chair Luzius Wasescha held bilateral consultations with a range of WTO members seeking their views on the way forward in the NAMA negotiations. He chaired an open-ended meeting of the NAMA Negotiating Group on 22 October to report back to the WTO membership on his consultations and to set out a work program for the coming weeks. The work program envisaged intensive negotiations in a variety of formats, which commenced in the week of 27 October. Discussions will leave aside the issue of the tariff cutting formula and flexibilities for developing countries for the moment, with the Chair planning discussions at a later stage. Discussions are taking place on other issues in small group settings. In the case of discussions on sectoral tariff reduction proposals, the Chair has left it to the proponents of sectoral proposals to take discussions forward.

Services

Members are beginning to prepare for a Council for Trade in Services (CTS) and subsidiary body meetings scheduled for the first week of December. This will be the first time these services negotiating groups have met formally since the ministerial signalling conference on services held in July.

The meetings will also provide an opportunity to engage at officials’ level on the broader services work program, including ongoing negotiations to develop disciplines on domestic regulation covering qualification requirements and procedures, licensing requirements and technical standards. The Working Party on GATS rules is also expected to meet. The working party is examining the issue of an emergency safeguard for services trade, as well as rules on subsidies and on government procurement of services. The Committee on Trade in Financial Services is expected to examine regulatory and scheduling issues related to micro-financing in developing countries.

Importantly, Australia will also work closely with others to take stock of the Doha services negotiations, specifically on the services text, and the services negotiations more broadly.

Intellectual Property

No developments.

Trade and Environment

No developments.

Trade Facilitation

The Trade Facilitation Negotiating Group most recently met from 13-17 October. The momentum of the negotiations continued with WTO members constructively engaging to refine the latest proposals under GATT articles V (transit), VIII (fees and formalities) and X (publication and administration of trade regulations), and on customs cooperation, as well as on the issues of special and differential treatment for developing countries and on technical assistance and capacity building support. The Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation is next due to meet in December.

Rules - Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Fisheries Subsidies

No developments.

WTO Meetings in Geneva

November/December

24 -28 November Rules week (trade remedies and fisheries subsidies)

First week of December Council for Trade in Services (CTS) and subsidiary body meetings

Contact Us:

Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221

Fax: (02) 6261 1858
Email trade.consult@dfat.gov.au

or for more information visit our website or the WTO website.

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