WTO Doha Round Bulletin, July 2010
This bulletin, summarising key WTO Doha Round-related activities, is issued by the Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- WTO 2010 Public Forum
- Intellectual property
- WTO Meetings in Geneva
Members continued their technical work in negotiating groups in Geneva during July. Australia has welcomed supplementary work taking place in a new small group format initiated by the G5, comprising Brazil, China, EU, India and the US. To date small group discussions on specific areas such as fisheries subsidies and development have been constructive and have injected a new dynamic into the negotiations. In his address to the Trade Negotiations Committee on 27 July WTO Director General Pascal Lamy called on negotiators to expand the small group dynamic by expanding discussions to all areas. Negotiations across the agenda will continue, including in the small group format, after the European summer break.
WTO 2010 Public Forum
The WTO's Annual Public Forum will be held on 15-17 September on the topic “The Forces Shaping the World”. The Forum will explore how different factors on the world scene have an impact on the multilateral trading system and examine the WTO's role in bolstering international trade and trade flows, and strengthening trade rules. While the Doha Round remains a priority for the WTO, this year's Forum seeks to identify future steps for the WTO and will provide an opportunity to consider all aspects of the WTO's work and contribute to greater coherence across issues of global governance. The WTO invites participation by any civil society organisations.
Information on this year's programme and core themes can be found on the WTO website.
The WTO Agriculture Chair, David Walker continued a process of informal consultations and meetings in the week commencing 5 July. Australia and Canada circulated a formal WTO paper on the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM). The paper demonstrated concerns about the way an untargeted SSM could seriously impede normal trade and cause uncertainty for exporters. Consultations on tariff simplification also continued and Australia raised concerns about the commercial impacts of the current methodology. Further technical work is required before the next series of meetings.
Data and templates discussions continued in parallel, where Australia put forward a ‘road map' for future work on export subsidy templates. Canada made a similar presentation on domestic support. The Chair welcomed these contributions and indicated his intention to set the forward work agenda prior to the northern summer break.
Meetings held in Geneva in July focussed on non-tariff measures (NTMs) and proposals for accelerated tariff reductions in identified product sectors. On NTMs, work continued on finding common ground on proposals offering the prospect of a more streamlined method of dealing with disputes and creating a more transparent approach to applying international standards in trade in sectors including chemicals, electronics and electrical goods and autos. On sectoral tariff liberalisation, discussion focussed on creating a method for members to participate in moving on a voluntary basis beyond formula-based general tariff reductions in key identified product sectors. Australia is a co-sponsor of sectoral liberalisation in the raw materials and gems and jewellery sectors.
The Chair of the Services negotiations, Fernando de Mateo, Mexico, encouraged Members to explore new ideas at the 2 July Council of Trade in Services in Special Session meeting. Australia joined others with strong interests in services in sending a robust message about the need to intensify the market access negotiations to ensure an outcome on Doha, including an acceptable outcome for services liberalisation.
In support of our market access interests, we reached agreement with a number of other Members to pursue our new plurilateral request on accounting services at the next rounds of services negotiations in September and November.
There continues to be broad general agreement that other areas of the services negotiations must also be progressed, such as disciplines on domestic regulation, and a mechanism to give Least Developed Country Members preferential treatment in the services negotiations.
TRIPS Council chaired by Ambassador Martin Glass (Hong Kong) was held on 8-9 June. The meeting focused on two additional agenda items — IP and public health and enforcement trends. Australia has sought to discuss enforcement in TRIPS Council for some time and welcomed the opportunity engage actively in such discussions. Members also engaged in substantial discussion on the patenting of genetic resources. The next TRIPS Council meeting is scheduled for the end of October. It is likely that there will also be an event dedicated to the 'para 6' system on TRIPS and public health at that time.
The TRIPS Special Session took place on 10 June, Chaired by Ambassador Darlington Mwape (Zambia). The meeting focused on two questions circulated by the Chair which sought information from Members on their domestic geographical indication (GI) and trade mark systems in order to move negotiations on a multilateral system for notifying and registering GIs for wine and spirits. Members engaged in preliminary technical discussions, which are expected to continue at the next TRIPS Special Session in October 2010.
Ambassador Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago) was formally elected as the new Chair of the Rules Negotiating Group session on 13 July 2010. He noted that Rules was a key part of the Doha Round for many Members and required a delicate balance with outcomes in all areas of the Rules mandate. The one-day session also provided Members with the opportunity to deliver statements to the new Chair about their highest priorities in the Rules negotiations and to provide their views on the way forward. Most Members agreed on continuing the negotiations from a ‘bottom up' approach with a number indicating the importance of continuing to address Chair's draft texts, bracketed texts (controversial issues) and unaddressed proposals.
The Friends of Fish group, of which Australia is a member, delivered a statement highlighting the need for an ambitious outcome on fisheries subsidies and calling for intensified work. The statement emphasised the grim state of the world's fisheries and noted that these negotiations could deliver important wins for trade, the environment and development.
The Chair has indicated that the Group will meet in the week beginning 4 October to discuss fisheries subsidies. The week beginning 1 November will be devoted to anti-dumping and horizontal subsidies.
WTO meetings in Geneva
Trade Policy Section, Office of Trade Negotiations
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