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TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Feb06/2)

8 February 2006


TIMELINES FOR WTO TALKS ARISING FROM DAVOS MINI MINISTERIAL

The Davos Mini-Ministerial meeting at the end of January ended with the announcement of a paper setting up detailed "timelines" for the negotiations on various issues of the Doha agenda.

This paper has also subsequently been issued as an informal WTO paper. It is not clear however what its legal status is as it was produced out of a meeting of only a minority of WTO members at an informal meeting at Davos.

Below is an article on this, which had been published in the SUNS on 31 January.

With best wishes
Martin Khor
TWN

----------------------------

Davos 'mini-ministerial' sets timelines for Doha talks

By Kanaga Raja, Geneva 30 January 2005 (South North Development Monitor)


Trade ministers from 18 countries and the European Union, at an informal meeting (27-28 January) on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, have agreed on a timetable of steps that need to be taken to meet the deadlines set at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.

The small group of ministers at Davos agreed on a set of targets and timelines to be achieved by end of 2006 in the various areas of negotiations under the Doha Work Programme.

These negotiations are scheduled to be completed by end 2006. The Hong Kong Ministerial Conference has set 30 April 2006 as the deadline for concluding full modalities in agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA).

The decision by the small group of ministers however needs to be endorsed by all 149 members of the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

Among the trade ministers that attended the 'mini-ministerial' included those from Australia, Benin, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, the European Commission, Ghana, Hong Kong China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Senegal, Switzerland, and the US.

Also in attendance were the Chair of the WTO General Council Ambassador Amina Mohamed of Kenya and the WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy.

The CARICOM countries were not apparently invited.

A press release issued in Davos after the meeting, hosted by Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs Joseph Deiss, said that the ministers, representing 'a broad spectrum of negotiating positions', took stock of the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference and reiterated their commitment to the objectives agreed in Doha and Hong Kong.

It said that the ministers addressed the necessary decisions to be made to drive the Doha Round to a successful conclusion in 2006. In particular, it added, the ministers looked into practical steps that negotiating groups should take to meet the deadlines set in Hong Kong.

Ministers agreed to promptly step up their efforts with a view to bridging divergences, the press release said, adding that the ministers stand ready to get involved whenever necessary to solve outstanding issues requiring political decisions.

Ministers also acknowledged that progress should be made in all areas to reach a balanced overall outcome.

The decision by the ministers, in a document titled 'Doha Work Programme - Timelines for 2006', refers to the various areas of negotiations under the Doha agenda and lists various timelines that were agreed to in the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.

In several areas of negotiations, the ministers complement the timelines agreed to in Hong Kong with proposed new targets and timelines.

The document begins with a section on 'Negotiations launched at Doha' where it merely reiterates concluding negotiations successfully in 2006 (paragraph 1 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration).

Under 'agriculture negotiations', the document also just reiterates the deadlines established in Hong Kong:

* Establish modalities no later than 30 April 2006. (para 10)

* Complete disciplines on export credits, export credit guarantees or insurance programmes, exporting state trading enterprises and food aid by 30 April 2006 as part of modalities. (para 6)

* Date (2013) for elimination of all forms of export subsidies, together with agreed progressivity and parallelism, to be confirmed only upon completion of modalities. (para 6)

* Submit comprehensive draft Schedules based on modalities no later than 31 July 2006. (para 10)

On 'cotton', the document refers to paragraph 11 of the Ministerial Declaration that says that all forms of export subsidies for cotton to be eliminated by developed countries in 2006.

It also refers to paragraph 12, where the Director-General is to furnish updates on development assistance aspects, at appropriate intervals, to the General Council. Here, the ministers have proposed a timeline of May/July for the Director-General to report to the General Council.

Under 'NAMA negotiations', the document refers to paragraph 23 on establishing modalities no later than 30 April 2006 and on submitting comprehensive draft Schedules based on modalities no later than 31 July 2006.

On preference erosion related problems (agriculture and NAMA), the ministers have only proposed a seminar in May. No new targets or timelines have been proposed.

On 'services negotiations', the document merely reiterates the decisions outlined in Annex C, paragraph 11( a), ( b), ( c), ( d) and ( e) of the Ministerial Declaration. These relate to several timelines, including submission of any outstanding initial offers as soon as possible; submission of plurilateral requests by Groups of Members by 28 February or as soon as possible thereafter; second round of revised offers to be submitted by 31 July; and final draft schedules of commitments to be submitted by 31 October.

On 'trade facilitation negotiations', the document cites Annex E, paragraph 4 where Members are to be mindful of overall deadline for finishing negotiations and resulting need to move into focused drafting mode early enough after the Sixth Ministerial Conference so as to allow for timely conclusion of text-based negotiations on all aspects of the mandate.

Here, the ministers have set the month of February for submission and discussion of proposals on all three pillars (Articles, Special and Differential Treatment and Technical Assistance and Capacity Building), as well as the deadline of July for first full draft, report to the Trade Negotiations Committee.

On the 'DSU negotiations' - which under the Doha Ministerial Declaration and Work Programme is not part of the Single Undertaking - the document out of the Davos mini-ministerial refers to paragraph 34 on the Special Session to continue to work towards rapid conclusion of negotiations. The ministers have set March/April for revised contributions on specific issues and July for presentation of Chairman's draft working document.

As regards 'environment negotiations', the document refers to paragraph 30 where Members are to intensify the negotiations, without prejudging their outcome, on all parts of paragraph 31 to fulfil the mandate. Here, the document has set September as the month to begin negotiations based on drafts with regard to sub-paragraphs 31 ( I) and ( ii).

As to paragraph 32 where members are to complete work expeditiously under paragraph 31 (iii), the document has set April for clarification of parameters to fulfil the mandate in this area.

On the 'TRIPS negotiations', in relation to paragraph 29 on intensifying negotiations in order to complete them within the overall time-frame for the conclusion of the negotiations, the document proposes July for the tabling of a working document.

Under the 'rules negotiations', in the area of anti-dumping subsidies and countervailing measures (AD/SCM) including fisheries subsidies, the document refers to Annex D, section I, paragraph 9 where participants are promptly to undertake further detailed work on disciplines on subsidies in the fisheries sector. Here, it sets March for proposals in the form of detailed legal drafting.

Under Annex D, section I, paragraph 10 (AD/SCM) referring to completion of process of analysing proposals by participants as soon as possible, the document has set April for tabling of remaining proposals on AD/SCM including fisheries subsidies, and June for completion of analysis of all proposals.

As to Annex D, section I, paragraph 11, where the Chairman is to prepare, early enough to assure timely outcome within the context of 2006 end date for the Doha Development Agenda, consolidated texts of AD and SCM Agreements that shall be the basis for final stage of negotiations, the ministers have set the target date of July for the submission of consolidated texts by the Chairman.

On 'Regional Trade Agreements', the document refers to Annex D, section II, paragraph 2 where the Negotiating Group is to intensify efforts to resolve outstanding issues, with a view to provisional decision on RTA transparency by 30 April 2006. Here, it sets January as the deadline for the Chairman's working document (circulated).

On Annex D, section II, paragraph 3 where the Negotiating Group is to intensify negotiations, based on text proposals as soon as possible, so as to arrive at appropriate outcomes by end 2006, the document also sets January for the Chairman's working document (circulated).

On 'Small Economies', the document cites paragraph 41 where the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) is to continue work in Dedicated Session and to monitor progress of small economies' proposals in negotiating and other bodies, with the aim of providing responses to trade-related issues of small economies as soon as possible but no later than 31 December 2006.

Here, the ministers have set July as the deadline for addressing proposals, and April-December for monitoring progress on topics of interest to small economies in other areas of negotiations, in particular Agriculture and NAMA, with the aim of providing responses to trade-related issues of small economies.

On 'special and differential treatment', in relation to Annex F - No. 36, where Members are to notify implementation of schemes adopted under decision every year to the Committee on Trade and Development, the document says that developed-country Members are to notify the means by which they will implement the decision by September. Developing-country Members declaring themselves in a position to do so to notify the means by which they will implement the decision by December.

In addition, also under Annex F - No. 36, where the CTD is to conduct a review on an annual basis of all steps taken by Members to provide duty-free and quota-free market access for all products originating from LDCs, the document sets November as the deadline for the CTD to conduct the first review.

Under paragraph 36, where the CTD in Special Session is to expeditiously complete review of all outstanding Agreement-specific proposals and report to the General Council with clear recommendations for decision, by December 2006, the document merely refers to the May, July and October General Council meetings.

The document makes a similar referral with respect to paragraph 37 on Category II proposals and paragraph 38 with respect to all other outstanding issues.

Under 'implementation', the document refers to paragraph 39 where the Director-General is to report to each regular meeting of the TNC and General Council; and the Council is to review progress and take any appropriate action no later than 31 July 2006. The document sets a timeline of February-June for the Director-General to report to the TNC and General Council (notably on GIs and TRIPS/CBD).

On 'Integrated Framework', in relation to paragraph 49 on Task Force to provide recommendations to IF Steering Committee by April 2006 and enhanced IF to enter into force no later than 31 December 2006, the ministers have set July for a report by the Director-General to the General Council.

On 'Aid for Trade', with respect to paragraph 57 on Director-General to create a Task Force and the Task Force to provide recommendations to the General Council by July 2006, the document gives a deadline of February for the setting up of the Task Force.

Also, under paragraph 57, where the Director-General is to hold consultations and report to the General Council on appropriate mechanisms to increase financial resources for Aid-for-Trade, the ministers set March and May for the Director-General to consult with members and agencies; set July for the General Council to discuss Task Force recommendations; September/October for Annual Meetings of IMF/World Bank, for Trade-Finance-Development Ministers' discussion of Aid-for-Trade package for Doha Agenda; and set December for Aid-for-Trade programme and enhanced IF to become operational. +

 


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