World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO Doha Round Bulletin

June 2009

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

WTO Trade Ministers have committed at two recent international meetings to re-energise efforts to conclude the WTO Doha Round.

At the Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting on 7-9 June in Bali, Cairns Group Ministers agreed to re-engage intensively to try and bring about a solution to the Doha Round. Special guests, India and the US, endorsed this approach. And on 25 June 2009, at an informal gathering of trade ministers, hosted by the Trade Minister, Mr Crean, in the margins of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris, Ministers restated their commitment to the WTO Doha Round. They agreed that we are now in the end-game of negotiations on the Round and directed senior officials to intensify negotiations in Geneva to secure progress before the European summer break. Senior officials have re-commenced negotiations in Geneva.

Ministers will be using all opportunities in the coming months to advance the Doha Round, including the G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy on 8-10 July and the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) in Singapore on 21-22 July.

Agriculture

At the Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Bali on 7-9 June, Cairns Group Ministers agreed to reinvigorate Doha negotiations by instituting a process of engagement at both technical and political levels. The Meeting, hosted by Indonesia and chaired by Australia, was very constructive. Cairns Group Ministers called for senior negotiators to convene in Geneva to map out a clear path towards conclusion of the negotiations as soon as possible, and to start down that path before the European summer break. Special guests, US and India, endorsed this approach. Negotiations were assisted by the presence of WTO Director-General, Mr Pascal Lamy and the new chair of the WTO agriculture negotiating group, Mr David Walker.

In the Bali Communiqué, the Cairns Group recognised the good progress that has been made in the agriculture negotiations. It called for that work, based on the draft modalities text, to be built on "to secure an outcome that meets the Cairns Group's long-term objective of a fair and market oriented agricultural trading system through substantial improvements in market access; substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support; and the long overdue elimination of all forms of export subsidies as agreed by Ministers in Hong Kong."

Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)

The non-agriculture market access (NAMA) negotiating group has been continuing technical discussions on non-tariff barriers. Discussions covered all non-tariff barrier proposals on the table but focused primarily on the proposal for a horizontal mechanism to facilitate solutions to such barriers and on proposals targeting electronics. Other proposals under consideration include: automotive products; chemical products and substances; remanufactured goods; and textile, clothing footwear (TCF) and travel goods. Some developing countries took the opportunity to reiterate their opposition to proposals on export taxes and export licensing.

Services

Australia has circulated a draft plurilateral (sectoral) collective request on accounting services for comment amongst like-minded Members as foreshadowed at the last round of services negotiations.

We hosted small group meetings in Geneva to explore avenues to break the stalemate amongst the Membership on developing disciplines on domestic regulation, and to take forward our interests in greater liberalisation of ancillary air transport services.

More broadly, the chairs of the various sectoral groups have been active in circulating proposals for their respective work programs to prepare the ground intersessionally for meetings held in June.

Intellectual Property

On 13 May, WTO Director-General Lamy held a third informal consultation on two issues whose place in the Doha Round is contested, namely extension of the higher level of protection given to wines and spirits geographical indications (GIs) to GIs for other products, and the requirement to disclose the source of any genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge used in inventions. The consultation offered proponents an opportunity to discuss technical elements associated with these issues. The Director-General announced a fourth informal consultation which took place on 16 June to again focus on technical issues.

On 20 May, an informal meeting of the TRIPS Special Session met ahead of the Special Session meeting on 10 June. The meeting provided an opportunity for participants, including Australia, to discuss the forward work of the Special Session, on a multilateral register for wine and spirit GIs.

Trade Facilitation

No new developments.

Rules - Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Fisheries Subsidies

No new developments.

WTO Meetings in Geneva

A full schedule of upcoming WTO meetings is available at http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news_e.htm#whatson

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

For more information: the WTO website

Previous WTO Doha Round Bulletins