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The Doha Round

The Doha Round is the latest round of trade negotiations among the WTO membership. Its aim is to achieve major reform of the international trading system through the

introduction of lower trade barriers and

revised trade

rules. The work programme covers about 20 areas of

trade. The Round is also known semi-officially as the Doha Development Agenda as a fundamental objective is to improve the trading prospects of developing countries.

The Round was officially launched

at the WTO’s Fourth

Ministerial Conference

in

2001(

November

9-14)

Doha,

Qatar,

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The Doha

in

November

Ministerial

Contd ..

The

developed

countries

wanted

a

new

round

of

multilateral trade negotiations to be launched soon, covering what are known as the Singapore Issues (a list of seven items) which were proposed at the meeting

in Singapore in 1996 for future negotiations. These included: investment, competition policy, trade facilitation, transparency in government procurement, environment, agriculture and TRIPs.

Developing countries like India, on the other hand, held that the Implementation Issues should be resolved

Doha Round: what are they negotiating?

The WTO’s work is to help trade flow more smoothly and predictably, for the benefit of all. The work is two-pronged:

lowering trade barriers where they can be lowered, and writing rules for maintaining trade barriers and for other trade policies. Both are the result of rounds of negotiations among governments since the 1940s.

THE SUBJECTS

Agriculture

The

aim: More market access, eliminating export

subsidies, reducing distorting domestic support, sorting out a

range of developing country issues

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and dealing with non-

Contd ..

Services

The aim: To improve market access and to strengthen the rules. Each government has the right to decide which sectors it wants to open to foreign companies and to what extent, including any restrictions on foreign ownership. Unlike in agriculture and NAMA, the services negotiations are not based on a “modalities” text. They are being conducted essentially on two tracks:

bilateral and/or plurilateral (involving only some WTO members) negotiations

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Contd ..

Rules

These cover anti-dumping, subsidies and countervailing measures, fisheries subsidies, and regional trade agreements. The aim: “Clarifying and improving disciplines” under the Anti-Dumping and Subsidies agreements; and to “clarify and improve WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies, taking into account the importance of this sector to developing countries.

The environment

Contd ..

Geographical wines

indications:

multilateral

register

for

and

spirits

This is the only intellectual property issue that is definitely part of the Doha negotiations. The objective is to

“facilitate”

the

protection

of

wines

and

spirits

in

participating countries. The talks began in 1997 and were built into the Doha Round in 2001.

Dispute settlement

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Contd ..

Other intellectual property issues

Some members want negotiations on two other subjects and to link these to the register for wines and spirits. Other members disagree. These two topics are discussed in consultations chaired by the WTO Director- General (sometimes a deputy):

GI “extension”. Extending the higher level of protection for geographical indications beyond wines and spirits

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Doha Ministerial declaration

Adopted on 14 November 2001

1. The multilateral trading system embodied in the World Trade Organization has contributed significantly to economic growth, development and employment throughout the past fifty years. We are determined, particularly in the light of the global economic slowdown, to maintain the process of reform and liberalization of trade policies, thus ensuring that the system plays its full part in promoting recovery, growth and development.

2. International trade can play a major role in the promotion of economic development and the alleviation of poverty. We recognize the need for all our peoples to benefit from the

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increased opportunities and welfare gains that the multilateral

Contd ..

  • 3. We recognize the particular vulnerability of the

least-developed countries and the special structural difficulties they face in the global economy. We are committed to addressing the marginalization of least-developed countries in international trade and to improving their effective participation in the multilateral trading system.

  • 4. We stress our commitment

to

the

WTO

as the

unique forum for global trade rule-making and

liberalization, while also recognizing that regional

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Contd ..

5. We strongly reaffirm our commitment to the objective of sustainable development, as stated in the Preamble to the Marrakesh Agreement. We are convinced that the aims of upholding and safeguarding an open and non- discriminatory multilateral trading system, and acting for the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development can and must be mutually supportive.

6.We reaffirm the right of members under the General

Agreement on Trade in Services

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to regulate, and

to

The Doha Round after Doha

Because they are complex, the negotiations have progressed in stages, each stage narrowing down differences through interim agreements that represent the “acquis” — what has been acquired or achieved so far. The starting point was the Doha Declaration, which had set broad objectives for the round, reflecting the membership’s divergent positions. The task of the negotiations was to find common ground and ultimately consensus.

Cancun, 2003

The 2003 Cancun talks—intended to forge concrete agreement on the Doha round objectives—collapsed after four days during

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Contd ..

Geneva 2004 The General Council’s decision of 1 August 2004 narrowed the gaps, focused the negotiations and raised them to a new level. This “July [2004] Package” decision included a number of annexes. Two of them are “Frameworks” for the negotiations in agriculture and non-agricultural market access, a term that is sometimes used for the entire package. (The 2004 decision sorted out disagreements that caused the 10–14 September 2003 Cancun Ministerial Conference to end in deadlock.)

Hong

Kong

2005 The

next

major

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agreement

was

the

Contd ..

Related

negotiations

took

place

in

Paris,

France

(2005), Potsdam, Germany (2007), and Geneva, Switzerland (2004, 2006, 2008).

The July 2008 negotiations broke down after failing to reach a compromise on agricultural import rules. After the breakdown, major negotiations were not expected to resume until 2009. Nevertheless, intense negotiations, mostly between the USA, China, and India, were held in the end of 2008 in order to agree on negotiation modalities. The impasse was not resolved and, in April 2011, director-general Pascal Lamy "asked members to think hard about 'the consequences

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of throwing away ten years of solid multilateral work”. Though

Development: the heart of the Doha Development Agenda

When they launched the Doha Round, ministers placed development at its centre. “We seek to place developing countries needs and interests at the heart of the Work Programme adopted in this Declaration,” they said. “… We shall continue to make positive efforts designed to ensure that developing countries, and especially the least-developed among them, secure a share in the growth of world trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development. In this b

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