WTO Rules

At the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference, held in Doha in November 2001, WTO Members agreed to negotiations dealing with WTO rules on four specific issues: anti-dumping, subsidies and countervailing measures, fisheries subsidies, and regional trade agreements.

Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Countervailing measures

The Doha Ministerial Conference agreed to negotiations aimed at clarifying and improving disciplines under the Agreements on Anti-dumping and on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, while preserving the basic concepts, principles and effectiveness of the Agreements. The mandate in paragraph 28 of the Doha Declaration calls for a two-phased process. The first phase was essentially exploratory. The second phase was to seek to clarify and improve the provisions, including disciplines on trade-distorting practices. During these phases, WTO Members submitted an extensive range of proposals with more than 150 proposals submitted on anti-dumping. 

WTO Members reaffirmed on December 2005 (para 22 of the Hong KongMinisterial Declaration) their commitment to the rules negotiations and urged the Rules Group to intensify and accelerate the negotiating process in all areas of its mandate at the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration and in Annex D on Rules [PDF 21 KB].

Papers tabled by WTO Members can be downloaded from the WTO's Documents Online database. You will need to enter TN/RL/W or TN/RL/GEN in the Document Symbol field in the search form, press Return and all documents under these symbols will be listed.

On 30 November 2007, the Chair issued Chair’s draft texts on anti-dumping and subsidies.

Fisheries subsidies

The mandate for the fisheries subsidies negotiations is to clarify and improve WTO disciplines, taking into account the importance of this sector to developing countries. The negotiations are also to enhance the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment and seek to develop new WTO rules to prohibit subsidies specific to the fishing sector.

Annex D (PDF) of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of December 2005 noted that there is broad agreement that disciplines on fisheries subsidies should be strengthened and that certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to over capacity and over fishing be prohibited. The Ministerial Declaration called on WTO Members to promptly undertake further detailed work to, inter alia, establish the nature and extent of disciplines on subsidies in the fisheries sector, including transparency and enforceability. The Declaration also noted that special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed Members should be an integral part of these negotiations.

Proposals have been divided between those preferring a broad-based prohibition with limited exceptions and others favouring limited, specific prohibitions. The Chair issued his draft text on fisheries subsidies on 30 November 2007.

Regional Trade Agreements

Information on Australia's participation in the WTO Committee on Regional Trade Agreements.

See also the department's World Trade Organization webpage