World Trade Organisation Doha Summit

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The November 2001 declaration of the ministerial conferencein Doha, Qatar provides the mandate for negotiations on a range of subjects andwork including issues concerning the implementation of the agreements.

The 21 subjects were listed in the Doha Declaration. Most of them involvenegotiations and other works including actions under “implementation”, analysisand monitoring.

In Doha First, ministers agreed to adopt around50 decisions clarifying the obligations of developing Country memberGovernments with respect to issues including agriculture, subsidies, textilesand clothing, technical barriers to trade, trade-related investment measuresand rules of Origin. Agreement on these points required hard bargaining betweennegotiators over the course of nearly three years.

Many other implementation issues of concern to developingcountries have not been settled. For these issues, Ministers agreed in Doha ona future work programme for addressing these matters.

The ministers established a two-track approach. Those issuesfor which there was an agreed negotiating mandate in the declaration would bedealt with under the terms of that mandate.

HIGHLIGHTS ON DOHA ROUND

Agriculture

Negotiations on agriculture began in early 2000, underArticle 20 of the WTO Agriculture Agreement. By November 2001 and theDoha Ministerial Conference, 121 Governments had submitted a number ofnegotiating proposals.

The declaration reconfirms the long-term objectives alreadyagreed in the present WTO Agreement i, e to establish a fair andmarket-oriented trading system through a programme of fundamental reform. Theprogramme encompasses strengthened rules, and specific commitments onGovernment support and protection for agriculture. The purpose is to correctand prevent restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets.

Without prejudging the outcome, member governments committhemselves to comprehensive negotiations that aimed at as follows

1) Market access:substantial reductions

2) Exportssubsidies: reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of these

3) Domestic support:substantial reductions for supports that distort trade 

The declaration makes special and differential treatment fordeveloping countries throughout the negotiations. It declares that the outcomeshould be effective in practice and should enable the developing countries formeeting their needs, in particular in food security and rural development.

The ministers also take note of the non-trade concerns (suchas environmental protection, food security, rural development, etc) reflectedin the negotiating proposals already submitted. They had confirmed that thenegotiations would take these into account, as provided in the AgriculturalAgreement.

SERVICES

The WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)commits member governments to undertake negotiations on specific issues and toenter into successive rounds of negotiations to progressively liberalize tradein services.

The services negotiations started officially in early 2000under the Council for Trade in Services. In March 2001, the Services Councilfulfilled a key element in the negotiating mandate by establishing thenegotiating guidelines and procedures.

The Doha Declaration reaffirms the negotiating guidelinesand procedures, and establishes some key elements of the timetable including,most importantly, the deadline for concluding the negotiations as part of asingle undertaking.
Market Access for non-Agricultural Products

The ministers came to an agreement to launch tariff-cuttingnegotiations on all non-agricultural products. The aim is “to reduce, or asappropriate eliminate tariffs, including the reduction or elimination of tariffpeaks, high tariffs, and tariff escalation, as well as non-tariff barriers, inparticular on products of export interest to developing countries”. Thesenegotiations shall take into account the special needs and interests ofdeveloping and least-developed countries, and recognize that these countries donot need to match or reciprocate in full tariff-reduction commitments by otherparticipants.

Another example is “tariff escalation”, in which higherimport duties were applied on semi-processed products than on raw materials andhigher still on finished products. These practices protect domestic processingindustries and discourage the development of processing activities in thecountries where raw materials originate.

Trade related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

TRIPS and Public Health

In the declaration, ministers have stressed that it isimportant to implement and interpret the TRIPS Agreement in a way that supportspublic health — by promoting both access to existing medicines and the creationof new medicines. They refer to their separate declaration on this subject.

This special declaration on TRIPS and public health isdesigned to respond concerns about the possible implications of the TRIPSAgreement for access to medicines.

It emphasizes that the TRIPS Agreement does not and shouldnot prevent member governments from acting to protect public health. It affirmsgovernments’ right to use the agreement’s flexibilities in order to avoid anyreticence the governments may feel.

The separate declaration clarifies some of the forms offlexibility available, in particular compulsory licensing and parallelimporting. (For an explanation of these issues, go to the main TRIPS pages onthe WTO website)

Transparency In Government Procurement

The Doha Declaration says that the “negotiations shall belimited to the transparency aspects and therefore that will not restrict thescope for countries to give preferences to domestic supplies and suppliers” —it is separate from the plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement.

The declaration had stressed development concerns, technicalassistance and capacity building.

Since the 1 August 2004 decision, this subject has beendropped from the Doha agenda. 

WTO Rules: Anti Dumping and Subsidies: -

The ministers agreed on negotiations concerning theAnti-Dumping (GATT Article 6) and Subsidies agreements. The aim is to clarifyand improve disciplines while preserving the basic, concepts, principles ofthese agreements, and taking into account the needs of developing andleast-developed participants.

In overlapping negotiating phases, participants firstindicated which provisions of these two agreements they think should be thesubject of clarification and improvement in the next phase of negotiations. Theministers mention specifically fisheries subsidies as one sector important todeveloping countries and where participants should aim to clarify and improveWTO disciplines.