WTO Doha Round Bulletin, August/September 2010

Office of Trade Negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

August/September 2010

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

Members continued their technical work in negotiating groups in Geneva and in a new small group format initiated by the so-called G5 (Brazil, China, EU, India and the US). Australia is participating in discussions with the G5 and the extended group comprising six other Members. These discussions have been constructive and will help build momentum in the Doha negotiations.

A number of Leaders' meetings, particularly the G20 Leaders Summit and the APEC Leaders' meeting in November, provide an opportunity to inject new momentum in the Round.

The new Trade Minister, Dr Craig Emerson, attended the Global Services Summit in Washington on 22 September. The Summit brought together trade Ministers from around the world, services industry leaders and members of the US Administration and Congress. Dr Emerson used the Summit to push for a kick-start of the stalled Doha Round, urging all parties to bring more to the table in the Round(see services issues for further details).

WTO 2010 Public Forum

The WTO's Annual Public Forum was held on 15-17 September on the topic "The Forces Shaping the World". The Forum covered issues ranging from climate change and carbon dioxide emissions to food security, intellectual property, services liberalisation and regulation and the role of non-governmental organisations. Information on the Forum can be found on the WTO website.

Agriculture

The WTO Agriculture Chair, David Walker, continued a process of informal consultations and meetings in the week commencing 27 September in Geneva. Costa Rica and Ukraine each circulated formal WTO papers on the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM). The Costa Rican paper demonstrated the potential impact of an unconstrained SSM on developing country exporters, emphasising that the SSM would have a negative effect on South-South trade. The Ukrainian paper proposed changes to the modalities to ensure all very recently acceded Members (VRAMs) and recently acceded Members (RAMs) could utilise the SSM.

Data and templates discussions continued in parallel, where Australia, Canada and the EU made presentations on templates for scheduling commitments across the three pillars. There was also further discussion of the Argentina, China and India (ACI) paper that was tabled in May, which focuses on issues in the present draft text that need clarification. The ACI argue that these issues need to be progressed in parallel with the data and templates process. The Chair indicated he would continue consulting with members further on the way forward on various issues before the next week of negotiations in December.

NAMA

Meetings held in Geneva in September again focussed on non-tariff measures (NTMs), with members reviewing proposals which offer the prospect of more streamlined methods of dealing with disputes, as well as proposals which aim to improve the agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade by creating a more transparent and harmonized approach to international standards in such areas as textiles labelling, chemicals, electronics and electrical goods and autos.

Services

The Minister for Trade, Dr Craig Emerson, delivered a strong message at the Global Services Summit in Washington on 22 September that services could have a significant role in finalising the Round. The Minister highlighted the concept of ‘clustering' as a way of generating momentum in the services negotiations. Clustering involves bringing together existing complementary plurilateral (sectoral) requests. Australia is developing a logistics and supply chain cluster and the United States is adopting a similar approach to information and communication technologies and computer-related services.

In his presentation, Dr Emerson highlighted the importance of regulation in services negotiations and the need to engage regulators when negotiating deals, pointing to the danger of negotiating outcomes that regulators will not implement and highlighting Australia's moves towards a seamless economy.

Dr Emerson also launched the independent study by the Centre for International Economics Quantifying the Benefits of Services Trade Liberalisation at the Summit. The CIE study shows that developing countries gain more from services trade liberalisation than developed countries. The Minister's presentations and CIE report are available on the DFAT website.

Australia advocated the clustering approach on logistics and supply chain services at a round of services negotiations in Geneva from 27 September to 1 October. There is strong support among key supporters of services trade reform for the clustering approach in the services negotiations.  The next round of services negotiations is scheduled for 15 – 26 November in Geneva at which we will continue to take forward our interests in new approaches.

Rules

The Rules Negotiations Group covering trade remedies (anti-dumping, horizontal subsidies and countervailing duty measures) and fisheries subsidies will hold its first negotiating sessions (since the appointment of its new Chair in mid-July) on fisheries subsidies on 4-8 October. A further session on anti-dumping and horizontal subsidies will be held in the first week of November 2010.

Intellectual Property

No new development

WTO Meetings in Geneva

See http://www.wto.org/meets_public/meets_e.pdf

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