WTO: 2013 NEWS ITEMS

NINTH WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

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The latest draft texts, available here, are the product of weeks of intensive negotiations in Geneva before the Ministerial Conference. They were further refined after round-the-clock consultations at the conference and are now being presented to ministers from the full membership to consider. Under WTO rules, a consensus is required for the decisions to be adopted.

They come under three headings:

 

Trade facilitation

Trade facilitation is cutting red tape and streamlining customs and port procedures.The latest draft is here

 

Agriculture

Four issues in agriculture out of a larger set negotiated in the Doha Round, are on the table. They are:

  • General services: a proposed list of general services of particular interest to developing countries that would be added to the “Green Box” — the category of domestic support that is considered not to distort trade (or to distort minimally) and therefore allowed without any limits.
  • Developing countries’ public stockholding of food for food security.
  • Tariff quota administration: a proposal to deal with the way a specific type of import quota (“tariff quotas”) is to be handled when the quota is persistently under-filled.
  • Export competition, the collective term for export subsidies and other policies with similar effects.

The latest drafts are here

 

Cotton

The draft on cotton deals both with improving market access for cotton products from least developed countries, and with development assistance for production in those countries. The latest draft is here

 

Development

This covers:

  • Duty-free, quota-free access for least developed countries to export to richer countries’ markets
  • Simplified preferential rules of origin for least developed countries, making it easier for these countries to identify products as their own products and qualify for preferential treatment in importing countries
  • A “services waiver”, allowing least developed countries preferential access to richer countries’ services markets
  • A “monitoring mechanism”, consisting of meetings and other methods for monitoring special treatment given to developing countries

The latest drafts are here

 

Other decisions

The ministers will also consider routine decisions passed on by the General Council. The latest drafts are here

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