Doha Development Agenda
At the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2015, WTO members agreed on a number of significant issues within the Doha Development Agenda and outlined the way forward in WTO negotiations.
The Nairobi ministerial declaration for the first time opened a new window of opportunity for WTO Members to explore new approaches to advance on ongoing negotiations and possibly consider expanding the scope of WTO rules to cover new issues.
The EU, together with other WTO Members, will work in the coming months to make sure that the WTO reaffirms its role as the centre of international trade policy and delivers on the issues that are most urgent for traders worldwide.
The Doha Development Round in a nutshell
The Doha Round of world trade negotiations - also known as the Doha Development Agenda - was launched in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. The talks aimed at further liberalising trade, whilst making it easier for developing countries, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs), to integrate into the WTO multilateral system.
The main issues at stake are:
- Reforming agricultural subsidies
- Ensuring that new liberalisation in the global economy respects the need for sustainable economic growth in developing countries
- Improving developing countries' access to global markets for their exports
Despite the EU's efforts, negotiations have stalled largely due to the lack of readiness from certain WTO Members to reform their agricultural policies.
The results of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference
The 10th WTO Ministerial Conference took place in December 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. It was the first WTO Ministerial Conference ever held in Africa.
The EU, together with several other countries, put forward a joint compromise proposal to address the question of export competition in agriculture. The proposal constituted an important basis for the final deal, which includes the elimination of export subsidies and the introduction of new rules for similar measures which also significantly distort international trade and disrupt local markets.
In Nairobi, WTO members also agreed a set of important decisions addressing some demands of the least-developed countries, including:
- seeking to simplify the conditions that exporters from the poorest countries have to meet, so that their products benefit from trade agreements (so-called rules of origin)
- Giving more opportunities for businesses from the poorest countries to provide services in the WTO's 164 member countries.
- Facilitating the integration of least-developed countries' cotton producers in global trade.
WTO members also agreed to continue negotiations on a longstanding proposal to shield trade-distorting public stockholding programmes for food security in developing countries from legal challenge and on a proposal to allow developing countries to temporarily raise their tariffs to deal with import surges or price falls (the so-called "special safeguard mechanism").
Finally, Ministers signed an important declaration. The Doha Development Agenda was not reconfirmed as such due to differences among WTO members regarding the value of the previously made attempts to reach consensus. While WTO members expressed their strong interest to advance negotiations on remaining Doha issues, some of them also supported the adoption of new approaches to advance on these issues. The declaration also recognises that some members wish to open negotiations on new issues in the WTO.
The results of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference
The main outcome of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference was the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The agreement aims to make it easier and cheaper to import and export by improving customs procedures and making rules more transparent. Reducing global trade costs by 1% would increase world-wide income more than USD 40 billion, 65% of which would go to developing countries. The gains from the Trade Facilitation Agreement are expected to be distributed among all countries and regions, with developing landlocked countries benefitting the most.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement will enter into force upon its ratification by 2/3 of WTO Members. The EU ratified the agreement in October 2015.
In Bali, WTO members also agreed on a series of Doha agriculture and development issues.