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Doha Development Agenda

The Doha Round of world trade negotiations was launched in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. Named the Doha Development Agenda, this round of trade negotiations is targeted at further liberalizing trade, whilst facilitating the integration of developing countries, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs) into the WTO multilateral system.

The first set of issues from the Doha Development Agenda was agreed by WTO Members at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference that took place on 3-6 December 2013.

The Doha Development Round in a nutshell

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

Thanks to its active engagement in the multilateral trade negotiations, the EU wants to boost the global Gross Domestic Product and creating a fair trade system for all countries, including LDCs.

EU trade policy and the Doha Development Agenda

The results of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference

Ministers agreed at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference on a series of DDA issues under three broad pillars: trade facilitation, agriculture and development, including issues of concern for the Least Developed Countries. In total 10 decisions and declarations were adopted:

  • The Trade Facilitation Agreement
  • The agriculture pillar comprises 4 decisions/declarations covering:
    • Food Security
    • General services
    • Export competition
    • Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) administration
  • The development pillar consists of 5 decisions covering:
    • Monitoring Mechanism regarding special and differential treatment in WTO Agreements and Decisions.
    • Operationalization of the LDC services waiver
    • Preferential rules of origin
    • Cotton
    • Duty-free quota-free

The Bali Ministerial Declaration also foresees the preparation within 12 months (i.e. till the end of 2014) of a clearly defined work programme on the remaining DDA issues.

The trade facilitation agreement

The main outcome of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference is the Trade Facilitation Agreement which, once implemented, will provide significant benefits to economic operators around the world and will boost global economic growth.

The agreement aims at making importing and exporting more efficient and less costly by increasing transparency and improving customs procedures. Economically, reducing global trade costs by 1% would increase world-wide income more than USD 40 billion, 65% of which would accrue to developing countries. It is expected that gains from the Trade Facilitation agreement would be distributed among all countries and regions, with the biggest benefits being accrued by developing landlocked countries.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement is meant to be formally adopted by WTO Members by 31 July 2014. It will then be opened for acceptance until 31 July 2015.

The way forward on the DDA

Following the successful outcome of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference, WTO Members are now reflecting on how to move forward on the remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda. The results of this reflection will be mirrored in a work programme that is meant to be agreed by the end of 2014.