WTO Doha Round Bulletin
- WTO Ministerial Conference
- Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)
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- Trade Facilitation
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Negotiations are continuing in Geneva under the work program agreed at the WTO ministerial meeting in New Delhi in September. Senior Officials participated in a week-long session of meetings from 19 to 23 October, with further sessions proposed for the weeks of 23 to 27 November and 14 to 16 December. Australia is working closely with other WTO Members in order to fulfil the commitment made by G20 Leaders in Pittsburgh in September to seek to conclude the WTO Doha Round in 2010.
The Minister for Trade, Mr Crean, attended the Global Services Summit held in Washington DC from 13 to14 October. In a ministerial panel discussion, he focused on the need to conclude the Doha Round and ensure services are a critical part of a Doha outcome. Mr Crean said the Round is about an economic stimulus as well as the most effective insurance against the spread of protectionism. His remarks to the Summit can be found at http://www.trademinister.gov.au/transcripts/2009/091013_gss.html.
The Australian Productivity Commission has recently highlighted the importance of maintaining open and liberal trading policies and concluding the Doha Round. In its 2008-09 Annual Report, released on 29 October, the Commission analysed the consequences of increased global protection. It found that increasing tariffs to bound rates within WTO rules could lead to a substantial fall in global output of nearly 2 per cent (around A$1 trillion), and an associated drop in world trade of around 8 per cent in the longer run.
The WTO's Seventh Ministerial Conference will take place from 30 November to 2 December 2009 in Geneva under the general theme "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment". The Conference will provide an opportunity to engage in a broad evaluation of the functioning of the WTO, including systemic and structural issues, and the multilateral trading system. Unlike the last ministerial conference held in Hong Kong in 2005, this Conference will not have a negotiating focus on the Doha Round. Further information on the Conference is available from http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min09_e/min09_e.htm.
Agriculture Chair David Walker held two negotiating sessions on the outstanding modalities issues in September and October, signalling renewed momentum in the negotiating process. These sessions were held in conjunction with technical discussions relating to the preparation of Doha Round schedules. The Cairns Group, chaired by Australia, made strong contributions to the meetings in September and October, and will again be a key player in the discussions slated for November and December. Mr Crean will chair a Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting in Geneva on 30 November, in the lead up to the WTO Ministerial Conference.
The next round of discussions on Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) will take place from 2 to 6 November. NAMA Chair Luzius Wasescha has also outlined the broader NAMA work program for the remainder of the year, which will include two more NAMA weeks in November and December, with consultations with relevant members on issues such as country-specific flexibilities and preference erosion. Members are continuing to drive discussions on proposals for sectoral liberalisation.
Australia actively pursued its services interests across the agenda at the last round of services negotiations in Geneva from 5 to 9 October. The delegation held a broad range of bilateral meetings (including on market access) and participated in plurilateral negotiations.
A key issue was seeking greater clarity on what the Doha services package would look like at the time agriculture and NAMA modalities were agreed. The package will need to include an outcome from the ongoing negotiations on domestic regulation. Negotiation of disciplines on domestic regulation (which cover qualification and licensing requirements and procedures, and technical standards) has intensified over recent months with Australia taking a leading role to broker consensus.
Reflecting the call to intensify Doha negotiations, WTO Members agreed to a further round of services negotiations from 2 to 13 November. At this round, the delegation will continue to press key regional trading partners in bilateral meetings to improve the quality of their services offers. In plurilateral (collective) sectoral negotiations, Australia will chair sessions on legal services and on Australia’s proposal for a new plurilateral request on accounting services.
Mr Crean participated in the Global Services Summit held in Washington DC on 13 to 14 October. In the ministerial panel discussion, he focussed on the need to conclude the Doha Round in 2010, and the fact services were a critical part of an outcome on Doha. The Summit usefully drew attention to the importance of services to global economic recovery and that the level of ambition on services in the Round needed to be lifted.
WTO Director-General Lamy held the fifth in a series of informal consultations on outstanding ‘implementation issues’ – GI extension and TRIPS/CBD on 8 October 2009. Australia maintains that a case has not been made for GI extension. Discussions on TRIPS/CBD remain constructive. Acknowledging the interest of proponents, Australia noted and welcomed the renewal of the mandate for the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on IP, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore in early October, which Australia actively supported. The renewed mandate strengthens Australia’s view that WIPO, given its technical expertise, is the most appropriate forum for discussions on IP, genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
The TRIPS Council met from 27 to 28 October and the Special Session met on 29 October; discussion on a GI register in the Special Session was along familiar lines. The EC’s border measures for IP were raised once more by India and Brazil, who argued that the EC’s measures hinder legitimate trade in generic medicines.
The Trade Facilitation meetings held from 5 to 8 October saw good progress on a range of proposals on the table, particularly in relation to transparency and Special and Differential Treatment (SDT). Australia is supporting a positive outcome on advance rulings, which have proven to be a major contributor to facilitating trade for Australian importers. Work will continue at the next meeting of the Negotiating Group on 9 to 13 November, with the aim of providing the basis for an Agreement on Trade Facilitation.
No new developments.
7-11 November Rules Negotiating Session
17 November General Council Meeting
30 Nov–2 Dec WTO Ministerial Conference
A full schedule of upcoming WTO meetings is available at http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news_e.htm#whatson
Trade Policy Section
Office of Trade Negotiations
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
BARTON ACT 0221
Fax: (02) 6261 1858
WTO website: http://www.wto.org/.