WTO Doha Round Bulletin
This bulletin, summarising key WTO Doha Round-related activities, is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting was held on 19-20 April in Punta del Este, Uruguay and was chaired by the Minister for Trade, Simon Crean. The meeting was the first opportunity for Ministers to engage after the March stocktake. A number of Cairns Group Ministers attended the meeting, as well as representatives from the US, EU, Japan, Egypt and Mexico, and WTO Director-General Lamy. The Icelandic volcano disrupted the attendance of some delegations, including WTO Agriculture Chair, David Walker and newly appointed US Ambassador to the WTO, Michael Punke.
In their communiqué, Cairns Group Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to concluding the Doha Round with an ambitious and balanced outcome in the agriculture, despite the slow pace of negotiations since July 2008. There was recognition that negotiations in other formats and configurations – bilateral and plurilateral – were needed to support the multilateral process in Geneva. The importance of working horizontally across the negotiating agenda was acknowledged as a means of establishing the necessary links and balances in the negotiations. Finally, Ministers urged continuing engagement at Ministerial level to provide the political guidance needed to successfully conclude the negotiations. Ministers will have their next opportunity to continue building momentum for the Round at the informal meeting on the Round being chaired by Mr Crean on 27 May in the margins of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris.
WTO Agriculture Chair, David Walker, will be holding ‘ice-breaker’ meetings during the week of 3 May, the first agriculture session in Geneva since the March stocktake. Discussions will focus on taking forward the technical work on data and templates and also establish a clear process for engaging on outstanding issues. Further meetings are scheduled for the week of 17 May to continue discussing data and templates and also continue consultations on outstanding modalities issues, based on the outcome of discussions from 3 May.
No new developments.
Australia sought to ensure the March stocktake clearly reflected the fact that services offers currently on the table as part of the Doha Round package were inadequate, and that more needed to be The March stocktake on services made clear to negotiators that significant gaps remained in the services negotiations and a satisfactory outcome was not possible on the basis of current offers. During the recent series of services negotiations in Geneva from 26-30 April, Australia, therefore strongly reiterated the need for Members to consider new approaches and ideas to increase industry support for a strong services outcome to the Doha Round.
We sought support for co-sponsorship of Australia’s new plurilateral (sectoral) collective request on accountancy services with a view to commencing negotiations with recipients in October. This will inject some momentum into the negotiations. However, we welcomed the fact other Members with interests in a strong outcome on services now agreed that it was timely to develop creative ideas to pursuing improved services commitments which we have been pressing for since January.
We successfully prosecuted our interests in ensuring Members continued to review measures countries had introduced in response to the global financial crisis were not trade protectionist. Members will discuss this issue at the next Committee on Trade in Financial Services, which Australia now chairs.
Ambassador Martin Glass (Hong Kong) has been appointed as the new Chair of the TRIPS Council. Mr Glass will consult informally with Members on the issues relating to the operation of the TRIPS Protocol in relation to access to medicines.
WTO Director-General Lamy has been holding informal consultations over the last two years on the "outstanding implementation issues" of TRIPS/CBD and GI-extension. Australia, together with likemindeds including the US, Japan, New Zealand and Canada, met with the Director-General on 14 April and expressed the view that discussions on the implementation issues should take place under appropriate agenda items in the TRIPS Council.
No new developments.
WTO Meetings in Geneva
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