Brief on Doha Development Agenda

23/11/2010    380

At the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001 WTO member governments agreed to launch new negotiations. They also agreed to work on other issues, in particular the implementation of the present agreements. The entire package is called the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).

The negotiations take place in the Trade Negotiations Committee and its subsidiaries, which are usually, either regular councils and committees meeting in “ special sessions”, or specially-created negotiating groups. Other work under the work programme takes place in other WTO councils and committees.

The Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancún , Mexico , in September 2003, was intended as a stock-taking meeting where members would agree on how to complete the rest of the negotiations. But the meeting was soured by discord on agricultural issues, including cotton, and ended in deadlock on the “ Singapore issues”. Real progress on the Singapore issues and agriculture was not evident until the early hours of 1 August 2004 with a set of decisions in the General Council (sometimes called the July 2004 package). The original 1 January 2005 deadline was missed. After that, members unofficially aimed to finish the negotiations by the end of 2006, again unsuccessfully. Further progress in narrowing members’ differences was made at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005, but some gaps remained unbridgeable and Director-General Pascal Lamy suspended the negotiations in July 2006. Efforts then focused on trying to achieve a breakthrough in early 2007.

There are 19-21 subjects listed in the Doha Declaration, depending on whether to count the “rules” subjects as one or three. Most of them involve negotiations; other work includes actions under “implementation”, analysis and monitoring. This is an unofficial explanation of what the declaration mandates (listed with the declaration’s paragraphs that refer to them):

Doha Timelines

November 2001, Doha
At the WTO Fourth Ministerial Conference, ministers agree to launch a new round of trade talks, placing development needs at the core.

September 2003, Cancún
The Fifth Ministerial Conference ends without consensus on how to move the negotiations forward.

July 2004, Geneva
Members adopt a framework for the negotiations on agriculture, NAMA & Services (the “July Package”), which has served as a basis for the work since then on these topics.

January 2005
Original deadline to conclude the round is missed.

December 2005, Hong Kong
At the Sixth Ministerial Conference, ministers advance negotiations to conclude the round by the end of 2006. The Hong Kong package enhances commitment in agriculture and NAMA, while mapping out all other areas in the Negotiations. Governments agreed to commit billions of dollars to an Aid for Trade package which would complement the Doha Round.

July 2006
Talks suspended

January 2007
Talks resumed

July 2008, Geneva
Members to discuss “July 2008 package”: establishment of Agriculture and NAMA modalities. Roadmap of all topics toward conclusion end 2008.