The Doha Round of Talks

INTRODUCTION The Doha Trade talks are a series of trade liberalization negotiations initiated under the World Trade Organization (WTO) in late 2001, which focus on trade liberalization for a wide-range of agricultural products. The round draws its name from the WTO Ministerial Conference that was held in Doha, Qatar, from November 9 to November 14, 2001. In particular, these rounds of trade talks are aimed at helping developing countries whose exportable goods are heavily concentrated among agricultural products develop their international trade. Poor countries complain that rich countries spend $1 billion a day on trade subsidies. By enacting trade liberalization on agricultural products, developing countries can be helped the most and poverty reduced. Other subjects covered by the trade talks include trade in services and intellectual property issues. At the conference, trade ministers agreed to undertake a new round of multilateral trade negotiations. The ministers passed two declarations. The first, the main declaration folded the on-going negotiations in agriculture and services into a broader agenda, which is commonly known as the Doha Development Round. In addition, the Doha agenda included the topic of industrial tariffs, topics of interest to developing countries, changes to WTO rules, and other provisions. The second declaration dealt with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and allows government to be flexible of TRIPS to deal with health problems. The meeting took place just two months after the World Trade Center attack. As a result, some government officials called for greater political cohesion and saw the trade negotiations as a means toward that end. Some officials thought that a new round of multilateral trade negotiations could help a world economy weakened by recession and terrorism-related uncertainty. After the Doha Round subsequent ministerial meetings took place in Cancún, Mexico (2003), and Hong Kong (2005). Related negotiations took place in Geneva, Switzerland (2004, 2006, 2008); Paris, France (2005); and Potsdam, Germany (2007). 1

It delayed the implementation of patent system provisions for pharmaceutical products for least developed countries (LDCs) until 2016. reductions of. Mexico September 10-14. During the rest of 2003.The Doha Round of Talks Ministerial Declaration The Doha Ministerial Declaration mandate for agriculture calls for comprehensive negotiations aimed at substantial improvements in market access. with a view to phasing out. malaria.) for achieving the mandated objectives. all forms of export subsidies. The Declaration recognized certain “flexibilities” in the TRIPS agreement to allow each member to grant compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals and to determine what constitutes a national emergency. formulas. 2 . The Declaration took note of non-trade concerns reflected in negotiating proposals of various member countries and confirmed that they would be taken into account in the negotiations. March 31. and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support. and tuberculosis or other epidemics. 2003 was set as the deadline for reaching agreement on “modalities” (targets. export subsidies. etc. Intellectual property declaration The Doha Declaration on Public Health sought to alleviate developing country dissatisfaction with aspects of the TRIPS regime. but that deadline was missed. negotiations on modalities continued in preparation for the fifth WTO Ministerial Conference held in Cancun. and market access — have become known as the three pillars of the agricultural negotiations. China's accession to the WTO The conference approved the accession of China to the WTO on November 10. expressly including public health emergencies such as HIV/AIDS. timetables. These topics — domestic support. The Declaration also provides that special and differential treatment for developing countries would be an integral part of all elements of the negotiations. 2003. The declaration committed member states to interpret and implement the agreement to support public health and to promote access to medicines for all.

China and South Africa There is also considerable contention against and between the EU and the U. The most significant differences are between developed nations led by the European Union (EU). whose chair is the WTO’s director-general. over their maintenance of agricultural subsidies— seen to operate effectively as trade barriers.S. However. broke down after failing to reach a compromise on agricultural import rules. the United States (USA) and and Japan and the major developing countries led represented mainly by India. Brazil. Doha Round talks are overseen by the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC). July 23-29 2008. major negotiations were not expected to resume until 2009. intense negotiations. After the breakdown. mostly between the USA. Nevertheless. were held in the end of 2008 in order to agree on negotiation modalities. these negotiations did not result in any progress.The Doha Round of Talks The most recent round of negotiations. currently Pascal Lamy. China and India. The negotiations are being held in five working groups and in other existing bodies of the WTO 3 .

The declaration agrees that negotiations on all other outstanding implementations issues shall be an integral part of the work programme. and substantial reductions in trade distorting domestic support being given by the developed countries. reducing of. with a view to phasing out. Special and differential treatment for developing countries would be an integral part of the negotiations. all forms of export subsidies. a declaration on trips agreement and public health and the decision on imp0lementations – launches the future work programme of the WTO and includes elaboration and time tables for the current negotiations in agriculture and services and possible negotiations in a range of other issues. IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES A number of implementation issues have been addressed in the decision on implementation – related issues and concerns including longer time frame (6 months) for compliance with new SPS and TBT measures. Where specific negotiations are mandated. Agriculture The declaration commits to comprehensive negotiations aimed at substantial improvements in market access for developing countries.The Doha Round of Talks THE DOHA DECLARATION The Doha declaration – comprising of a main declaration. moratorium of two years on nonviolation complains under the TRIPS agreement. need for special care for initiation of back to back anti-dumping investigations within a year and co-operation and assistance by member in investigations relating to declared values. relevant implementation issues shall be addressed under that mandate and other outstanding implementations shall be addressed as a matter of priority by the relevant WTO bodies. 4 . It also takes notes of non-trade concerns of developing countries and their development needs including food security and rural development.

examination of the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). the Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health is one of the most significant outcomes of the Doha Conference. high tariff escalations. Product coverage shall be comprehensive and without a priori exclusions with negotiations taking into account the needs and interests of the developing countries including through less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments. Industrial tariffs The negotiations under industrial tariffs would aim at reducing or as appropriate eliminating tariffs. the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore and other relevant new developments would be addressed by the TRIPS council as part of the implementation issues. as well as non-tariff barriers. The issues related to extension of the higher level of protection of geographical indications to products other than wines and spirits. It recognises that the TRIPS Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of the WTO members’ right to protect public health and to promote access to medicines for all.The Doha Round of Talks Services The Negotiating Guidelines and Procedures adopted by the Council for Trade in Services would form the basis for continuing negotiations in services with a view to achieving the objectives of GATS. Further. including the reduction of tariff peaks. principles and effectiveness of these 5 . WTO rules The Declaration mandates negotiations aimed at clarifying and improving disciplines under the Agreement on Implementation and Subsidies and Countervailing Measures while preserving the basic concepts. TRIPS The work programme mandates negotiations on establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration of geographical indications for wines and spirits by the fifth session of the Ministerial Conference. The declaration recognizes the large number of proposals submitted by the members on various sectors including on movement of natural persons. in particular on products of export interest to developing countries.

It also includes negotiations aimed at clarifying and improving disciplines and procedures under the existing WTO provisions applying to regional trade agreement (keeping in view the developmental aspects of these agreements). interaction between trade and competition. Singapore issues The issues relating to trade and investment. Addressing outstanding implementation issues on these subjects would be an integral part of these negotiations. the relevant provisions of the TRIPS Agreement and labelling. transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation will continue to be pursued in the Working Group Study process. Electronic commerce The work programme declares that members will maintain their current practise of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions until the fifth Ministerial Session. Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) The negotiations shall fully take into account the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries. according to the work programme will take place after the fifth session of the Ministerial Conference on the basis of a decision to be taken.The Doha Round of Talks Agreements and taking into account the needs of developing countries. at that session on modalities of negotiations. along with instructions to the committee on Trade and Environment to pursue its work on all items on its agenda. Negotiations are further mandated on improvements and clarifications of the Dispute Settlement Understanding. Environment Negotiations on limited aspects of trade and environment has been mandated. giving particular attention to the issues of market access. 6 . It has also been agreed to review all special and differential provisions with a view to strengthening them and making them more precise. by explicit consensus. Negotiation on these subjects. effective and operational.

within the WTO mandate. increased flow of technology to developing countries.The Doha Round of Talks Labour The declaration recognizes that ILO is the appropriate forum to address the issue of core labour standards. One group will examine the relationship between Trade. to the problem of external indebtedness of developing countries and to strengthen the coherence of the international trade and financial policies. 7 . with a view to safeguarding the multilateral trading system from the effects of financial and monetary instability. The other working group will examine the relationship between trades and transfer of technology and to facilitate. Working groups The work programme has also set up two working groups. within the WTO mandate. Debt and Finance for suggesting solutions.

TRIPS The major gains for India and other developing countries was the declaration on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and public health that would help greater access to medicines. This success in keeping out the four contentious “Singapore” issues of investment. The 10-page declaration adopted at the ministerial conference sets out the agenda for the new round known as “Doha Development Agenda”. The developing and least developing countries can promote greater access to the patented medicines like AIDS and cancer at cheap rates and India will be able to export its medicine for anthrax inspite being patented by Bayer of Germany. 8 . government procurement and trade facilitation till the next conference had been achieved by India amidst dire warnings of India’s isolation made initially by developed countries like USA. The performance of the Indian team led by the feisty Mr Murasoli Maran.The Doha Round of Talks DOHA: TREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES The Doha declaration approved by 142 countries at the fourth ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). EU and Japan did not want collapse of the multilateral global trading system as it happened in Seattle fiasco. There will be as many as 19 subjects in the work programme. This only helped the Doha meet. It is explicit consensus. it can opt out of discussion. however how will this operate is problematic. competition. which was not in the agenda. which means that unless a country is in full agreement with the proposed WTO declaration. India appears to achieved sizeable gains at eh WTO conference despite the decision to go ahead with the development round of the trade negotiations. ended in a consensus note because all the countries especially the leaders the US. has been commended wholeheartedly by the trade ministers of the developing countries for sticking to the implementation issues of the Uruguay Round resulting in an extra day of negotiations that the sixth day November 14.

agricultural exports. but the move to link labour has been relegated to the earlier position of leaving it to International Labour Organisation (ILO). Similarly. EU and Japan. which will help the tribal and rural India. less important items – about 40 in number – involving mainly a “best endeavour clause” have been settled.” The Confederation of India Industry (CII) has lauded the negotiating team for ensuring that many of India’s key concerns were factored into final Doha Declaration despite tremendous pressures from USA. Implementation Issues A decision was supposed to be made on all the proposals made by the developing countries. Social Clause Out of the social clause issue like environment and labour. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has expressed satisfaction at the delegation for ensuring that the Indian position was vindicated on many issues. first in 1999. it has not been possible to prevent negotiations on environment. Instead. The only exception is an agreement by the rich countries not to repeat an anti-dumping action on a country for the same product within a year 9 . and patent protection. “The issue of anti-dumping provisions as neoprotectionist measures has been now discipline and instruments currently in use by the US. Textile and Clothing There was no worthwhile commitment by the developed countries on the further liberalisation of access for developing nations regarding export of textiles and clothing.The Doha Round of Talks Geographic Origin India has been able to put the implementation issue of the WTO on a priority basis. This means that labour issue will never be raised in the future meetings with WTO. to address the difficulties and imbalances in the 1994 Uruguay Round like textiles. The mandate is also to discuss the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore. other areas of success are in ensuring developed countries to commit phasing out export subsidies on agriculture as well as talks on geographical indications covering other products as basmati rice and not just wines and spirits like champagne or scotch.

Market Access for non-agricultural products The central focus of the old GATT covers import duties on industrial products. India had little problem on the agenda for agriculture since it had earlier secured a reference to taking into account “food security and rural development” concerns when negotiating market liberalisation. The Indian interest will be first and foremost in getting agreement for more liberal provisions for the temporary migration of Indian technical and non-technical workers to foreign markets. The opportunities will come from forcing the EU and the US to lower duties they impose on certain products like sugar and in negotiating a reduction in duties they impose in those raw materials remain low. The threat will be for India to reduce its high average duties being the highest among most WTO countries. The practice of repeat investigations was a form of harassment of the developing countries.The Doha Round of Talks of the previous being rejected. The negotiations will be both an opportunity and threat for India. where negotiations had not made much progress since 2000. Services The second issue what was mandated in 1995 for talks to begin in 2000 did not see any disagreement. 10 . Agriculture This was the most contentious issue among the developed economies with the EU and Japan ranged against the US and agricultural exporters like Australia.

wto. Vasudeva Websites: 11 .org www. K.The Doha Round of Talks BIBLIOGRAPHY: Books: India and World Trade Organisation: Planning and Development – P.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful