World Trade Organization Negotiations: The Doha Development Agenda
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
Talks continue in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Development Round of th
multilateral trade negotiations. The negotiations, which were launched at the 4 WTO Ministerial
in 2001 at Doha, Qatar, have been characterized by persistent differences between the United
States, the European Union, and developing countries on major issues, such as agriculture,
industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies. Depending on the outcome,
some U.S. industries may gain access to foreign markets, and others may see increased
competition from imports. Likewise, some U.S. workers may be helped through increased access
to foreign markets, but others may be hurt by import competition.
The negotiating impasse put negotiators beyond the reach of agreement under U.S. trade
promotion authority (TPA), which expired on July 1, 2007. With the deadline passed, the parties th
are now attempting to make progress in the negotiations in the hope that the 110 Congress will
extend TPA. During the second half of 2007, the chairmen of the agriculture, industrial, and rules
negotiating groups released new draft texts and revisions to those texts have been made in the
course of 2008. Yet, trade ministers again failed to reach a breakthrough at an eight day
negotiating ministerial held in Geneva in July 2008.
Agriculture has become the linchpin of the Doha Development Agenda. U.S. goals are substantial
reduction of trade-distorting domestic support; elimination of export subsidies, and improved
market access. Some had looked to a potential Doha Round agreement to curb trade-distorting
domestic support as a catalyst to change U.S. farm subsidies in the 2007 farm bill, but this source
of pressure for change dissipated with the continued Doha impasse. In addition, Members of
Congress likely will carefully scrutinize any agreement that may require changes to U.S. trade
Three issues are among the most important to developing countries, in addition to concessions on
agriculture. One issue, now resolved, pertained to compulsory licensing of medicines and patent
protection. A second deals with a review of provisions giving special and differential treatment to
developing countries. A third addresses problems that developing countries are having in
implementing current trade obligations.
Backgr ound ..................................................................................................................................... 1
What Began at Doha?................................................................................................................1
Progress of the Negotiations: The Search for Modalities..........................................................3
The Cancun Ministerial.......................................................................................................3
The WTO Framework Agreement......................................................................................4
The Hong Kong Ministerial................................................................................................4
Suspensi on ..................................................................................................................... ..... 5
Significance of the Negotiations...............................................................................................7
The Doha Agenda............................................................................................................................8
Agriculture .................................................................................................................... ...... 8
Services .............................................................................................................................. 11
Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)......................................................................12
Access to Patented Medicines...........................................................................................15
Special and Differential (S&D) Treatment.......................................................................16
Envi ronment .................................................................................................................... .. 19
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................21
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the principal international organization governing world
trade. It has 152 member countries, representing over 95% of world trade. It was established in
1995 as a successor institution to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The
GATT was a post-World War II institution intended to promote nondiscrimination in trade among
countries, with the view that open trade was crucial for economic stability and peace.
Decisions within the WTO are made by member countries, not WTO staff1, and they are made by
consensus, not formal vote. High-level policy decisions are made by the Ministerial Conference,
which is the body of political representatives (trade ministers) from each member country. The
Ministerial Conference must meet at least every two years. Operational decisions are made by the
General Council, which consists of a representative from each member country. The General
Council meets monthly, and the chair rotates annually among national representatives.
The United States was an original signatory to the GATT and a leading proponent of the GATT’s
trade-liberalizing principles. It continues to be among the countries urging further discussions on
opening markets to trade. Although decisions in the WTO are made by consensus, the United
States has a highly influential role shaping decisions in the institution befitting its status as the
largest trading nation in the world.
Periodically, member countries agree to hold negotiations to revise existing rules or establish new
ones. These periodic negotiations are commonly called “rounds.” The broader the negotiations,
the greater the possible trade-offs, and thus theoretically the greater the potential economic
benefits to countries. The multilateral negotiations are especially important to developing
countries, which might otherwise be left out of more selective agreements. It must be
remembered, however, that trade liberalization also results in job losses and other economic
dislocations as well.
On November 9-14, 2001, trade ministers from member countries met in Doha, Qatar for the
fourth WTO Ministerial Conference. At that meeting, they agreed to undertake a new round of 2
multilateral trade negotiations.
Before the Doha Ministerial, negotiations had already been underway on trade in agriculture and
trade in services. These on-going negotiations had been required under the last round of
multilateral trade negotiations (the Uruguay Round, 1986-1994). However, some countries,
including the United States, wanted to expand the agriculture and services talks to allow trade-
offs and thus achieve greater trade liberalization.
1 The WTO staff is based in Geneva and numbers about 625 with a budget of approximately $152 million in 2007. The
organization is headed by a Director-General, currently Pascal Lamy of France.
2 For information on the results of the Doha Ministerial Conference, see CRS Report RL31206, The WTO Doha
Ministerial: Results and Agenda for a New Round of Negotiations, by William H. Cooper.
There were additional reasons for the negotiations. Just months before the Doha Ministerial, the
United States had been attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Some government officials
called for greater political cohesion and saw the trade negotiations as a means toward that end.
Some officials thought that a new round of multilateral trade negotiations could help a world
economy weakened by recession and terrorism-related uncertainty. According to the WTO, the
year 2001 showed “...the lowest growth in output in more than two decades,” and world trade 3
actually contracted that year.
In addition, countries increasingly have been seeking bilateral or regional trade agreements. As of
November 1, 2007, 385 regional trade agreements have been notified to the GATT/WTO, 197 of 4
which are currently in force. There is disagreement on whether these more limited trade
agreements help or hurt the multilateral system. Some experts say that regional agreements are
easier to negotiate, allow a greater degree of liberalization, and thus are effective in opening
markets. Others, however, argue that the regional agreements violate the general
nondiscrimination principle of the WTO (which allows some exceptions), deny benefits to many
poor countries that are often not party to the arrangements, and distract resources away from the 5
With the backdrop of a sagging world economy, terrorist action, and a growing number of
regional trade arrangements, trade ministers met in Doha. At that meeting, they adopted three
documents that provided guidance for future actions. The Ministerial Declaration includes a
preamble and a work program for the new round and for other future action. This Declaration
folded the on-going negotiations in agriculture and services into a broader agenda. That agenda
includes industrial tariffs, topics of interest to developing countries, changes to WTO rules, and
other provisions. The Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health presents a political 6
interpretation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). A
document on Implementation-Related Issues and Concerns includes numerous decisions of 7
interest to developing countries.
Especially worth noting is how the role of developing countries changed at the Doha Ministerial.
Since the beginning of the GATT, the major decision-makers were almost exclusively developed
countries. At the preceding Ministerial Conference (Seattle, 1999), developing countries became
more forceful in demanding that their interests be addressed. Some developing countries insisted
that they would not support another round of multilateral negotiations unless they realized some
concessions up-front and the agenda included their interests. Because of the greater influence of
developing countries in setting the plan of action at Doha, the new round became known as the
Doha Development Agenda.
3 World Trade Organization (WTO), Annual Report 2002. p. 10.
4 WTO, Report (2007) of the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements to the General Council, (WT/REG/18),
December 3, 2007.
5 For a discussion of the effect of free-trade agreements, see CRS Report RL31356, Free Trade Agreements: Impact on
U.S. Trade and Implications for U.S. Trade Policy, by William H. Cooper.
6 See CRS Report RS21609, The WTO, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Access to Medicines Controversy, by Ian
7 The Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(01)/DEC/1), the Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health
(WT/MIN(01)/DEC/2), and the Implementation-Related Issues and Concerns (WT/MIN(01)/DEC/17) are available
through the WTO home page at http://www.wto.org/.
At the Doha meeting, trade ministers agreed that the 5th Ministerial, to be held in 2003, would
“take stock of progress, provide any necessary political guidance, and take decisions as
necessary,” and that negotiations would be concluded not later than January 1, 2005. With the
exception of actions on the Dispute Settlement Understanding, trade ministers agreed that the
outcome of the negotiations would be a single undertaking, which means that nothing is finally
agreed until everything is agreed. Thus, countries agreed they would reach a single,
comprehensive agreement containing a balance of concessions at the end of the negotiations.
Negotiations have proceeded at a slow pace and have been characterized by lack of progress on
significant issues, and persistent disagreement on nearly every aspect of the agenda. A few issues
have been resolved, notably in agriculture. However, the first order of business for the round, the
negotiation of modalities, or the methods and formulas by which negotiations are conducted, still
remain elusive four years after the beginning of the round.
An important milepost in the Doha Development Agenda round was the 5th Ministerial
Conference, which was held in Cancún, Mexico on September 10-14, 2003. The Cancún
Ministerial ended without agreement on a framework to guide future negotiations, and this failure
to advance the round resulted in a serious loss of momentum and brought into question whether 8
the January 1, 2005 deadline would be met.
The Cancun Ministerial collapsed for several reasons. First, differences over the Singapore issues
seemed irresolvable. The EU had retreated on some of its demands, but several developing
countries refused any consideration of these issues at all. Second, it was questioned whether some
countries had come to Cancun with a serious intention to negotiate. In the view of some
observers, a few countries showed no flexibility in their positions and only repeated their
demands rather than talk about trade-offs. Third, the wide difference between developing and
developed countries across virtually all topics was a major obstacle. The U.S.-EU agricultural
proposal and that of the Group of 21, for example, show strikingly different approaches to special
and differential treatment. Fourth, there was some criticism of procedure. Some claimed the
agenda was too complicated. Also, Cancun Ministerial chairman, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis
Ernesto Derbez, was faulted for ending the meeting when he did, instead of trying to move the
talks into areas where some progress could have been made.
At the end of their meeting in Cancun, trade ministers issued a declaration instructing their
officials to continue working on outstanding issues. They asked the General Council chair,
working with the Director-General, to convene a meeting of the General Council at senior official
level no later than December 15, 2003, “...to take the action necessary at that stage to enable us to
move towards a successful and timely conclusion of the negotiations.”
8 For more detailed information on the Cancún Ministerial, see CRS Report RS21664, The WTO Cancun Ministerial,
by Ian F. Fergusson; and General Accounting Office. Cancun Ministerial Fails to Move Global Trade Negotiations
Forward; Next Steps Uncertain. Report to the Chairman, Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, and to the Chairman,
Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives. GAO-04-250. January 2004.
The Cancun Ministerial did result in the creation of the so-called Derbez text. Ministerial
chairman Derbez invited trade ministers to act as facilitators in Cancun and help with negotiations
in five groups: agriculture, non-agricultural market access, development issues, Singapore issues,
and other issues. The WTO Director-General served as a facilitator for a sixth group on cotton.
The facilitators consulted with trade ministers and produced draft texts from their group 9
consultations. The Ministerial chairman compiled the texts into a draft Ministerial Declaration
and circulated the revised draft among participants for comment.
The Derbez text was widely criticized at Cancun and it was not adopted, but in the months
following that meeting, members looked increasingly at this text as a possible negotiating
framework. On agriculture, the Derbez text drew largely on both the U.S.-EU and Group of 21
proposals. It included a larger cut from domestic support programs than the U.S.-EU proposal
made, contained the blended tariff approach of the U.S.-EU proposal but offered better terms for
developing countries, and provided for the elimination of export subsidies for products of
particular interest to developing countries. On the Singapore issues, it included a decision to start
new negotiations on government procurement and trade facilitation, but not investment or
The aftermath of Cancun was one of standstill and stocktaking. Negotiations were suspended for
the remainder of 2003. However, in early 2004, then-U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert 10
Zoellick offered proposals on how to move the round forward. The USTR called for a focus on
market access, including an elimination of agricultural export subsidies. He also said that the
Singapore issues could progress by negotiating on trade facilitation, considering further action on
government procurement, and possibly dropping investment and competition. This intervention
was credited at the time with reviving interest in the negotiations, and negotiations resumed in
On July 31, 2004, WTO members approved a Framework Agreement that includes major 11
developments in the most contentious and crucial issue—agriculture. Because of the importance
of agriculture to the Round, the Framework, which provides guidelines but not specific
concessions, was regarded as a major achievement. With a broad agreement on agriculture and on
other issues, negotiators were given a clearer direction for future discussions. However, the talks
settled back into a driftless stalemate, where few but the most technical issues were resolved.
The stalemate in 2005 increased the perceived importance of the 6th Ministerial in Hong Kong as
potentially the last opportunity to settle key negotiating issues that could produce an agreement
by 2007, the de facto deadline resulting from the expiration of U.S. trade promotion authority.
Although a flurry of negotiations took place in the fall of 2005, WTO Director-General Pascal
Lamy announced in November 2005 that a comprehensive agreement on modalities would not be
9 WTO document JOB(03)/150/Rev.2.
10 “Zoellick Letter to Trade Ministers,” Inside U.S. Trade, January 16, 2004.
11 See CRS Report RL32645, The Doha Development Agenda: The WTO Framework Agreement, by Ian F. Fergusson
forthcoming in Hong Kong, and that the talks would “take stock” of the negotiations and would
try to reach agreements in negotiating sectors where convergence was reported. The final
Ministerial Declaration of December 18, 2005, reflected areas of agreement in agriculture,
industrial tariffs, and duty-free and tariff-free access for least developed countries (see sectoral
negotiations section below for details). Generally, these convergences reflect a step beyond the 12
July Framework Agreement, but fall short of full negotiating modalities.
Deadlines were established at Hong Kong for concluding negotiations by the end of 2006. These
deadlines included an April 30, 2005 date to establish modalities for the agriculture and NAMA
negotiations. Further deadlines set for July 31, 2006, include the submission of tariff schedules
for agriculture and NAMA, the submission of revised services offers, the submission of a
consolidated texts on rules and trade facilitation, and for recommendations to implement the “aid
for trade”language in the Hong Kong declaration. On April 21, 2006, WTO Director-General
Pascal Lamy announced there was no consensus for agreement on modalities by the April 30
Trade negotiators likewise failed to reach agreement at a high-level meeting in Geneva on June
30-July 1, 2006. It was agreed at those meetings, however, that Director-General Pascal Lamy
would undertake a more proactive role as a catalyst “to conduct intensive and wide-ranging 13
consultations” to achieve agricultural and industrial modalities. Prior to the summit, Lamy for
the first time in his tenure suggested the outline of a possible compromise. Known as the “20-20-
20 proposal,” the offer (1) called on the United States to accept a ceiling on domestic farm
subsidies under $20 billion, (2) proposed the negotiations use the G20 proposal of 54% as the
minimum average cut to developed country agricultural tariffs, and (3) set a tariff ceiling of 20 for
developing country industrial tariffs. This suggestion was roundly criticized by all sides and was 14
not adopted at the Geneva meetings. At the G-8 summit of leading industrialized nations in St.
Petersburg, the leaders pledged a “concerted effort” to reach an agreement on negotiating
modalities for agriculture and industrial market access with a month of the July 16 summit.
Despite the hortatory language of the G-8 Ministerial Declaration, the talks were indefinitely
suspended less than a week later by Director-General Lamy on July 24, 2006. The impasse was
reached after a negotiating session of the G-6 group of countries (United States, EU, Japan,
Australia, Brazil, and India) on July 23 failed to break a deadlock on agricultural tariffs and
subsidies. The EU blamed the United States for not improving on its offer of domestic support,
while the United States responded that no new offers on market access were put forward by the
EU or the G-20 to make an improved offer possible. Members of Congress praised the hard-line
position taken by U.S. negotiators that additional domestic subsidy concessions must be met with 15
increased offers of market access.
The final Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(05)/DEC), December 18, 2005 is available at http://www.wto.org/english/
thewto_e/minist_e/min05_e/final_text_e.pdf. For more information, see CRS Report RL33176, The World Trade
Organization: The Hong Kong Ministerial, by Ian F. Fergusson et al..
13 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, Special Update, July 3, 2006. http://www.ictsd.org.
14 “Lamy Outline of Possible Deal Meets U.S. Criticism As Talks Begin,” Inside U.S. Trade, June 30, 2006.
15 “Congress Blames EU for Doha Failure”, WTO Reporter, July 25, 2006.
Following the July 2006 suspension, several WTO country groups such as the G-20 and the
Cairns Group of agricultural exporters met to lay the groundwork to restart the negotiations.
While these meeting did not yield any breakthrough, Lamy announced the talks were back in “full
negotiating mode” on January 31, 2007. Key players in the talks such as the G-4 (United States,
European Union, Brazil, India) conducted bilateral or group meetings to break the impasse in the
first months of the year. In April 2007, G-6 negotiators (G-4 plus Australia and Japan) agreed to
work towards concluding the round by the end of 2007. Subsequently, a G-4 summit in Potsdam,
Germany collapsed in acrimony on June 21, 2007 over competing demands for higher cuts in
developed country agricultural subsidies made by developing countries and developed country
demands for greater cuts in industrial tariffs in developing countries.
Despite the Potsdam setback, the chairs of the agriculture and industrial market access (NAMA)
negotiating groups put forth draft modalities texts on July 17, 2007. These texts, represent what
the chair of each committee, as facilitators of the talks, believe is the basis for a balanced level of
concessions based on the Doha Declaration and subsequent agreements. Revisions to these texts
were circulated on February, May, and July 2008 based on committee level negotiation s held in
Geneva. Despite the criticism these texts received from nearly all quarters, they have served to
continue the engagement of the various parties in Geneva at a time when many have predicted the
demise of the round.
Negotiators met in Geneva between July 21-29, 2008 in what was described as a ‘make-or-break’
summit to reach agreement based on the texts prepared during the spring. Once again, however,
trade ministers failed to reach agreement with the talks foundering on a “special safeguard
mechanism” (SSM) for agriculture products (see section on agriculture below). In the aftermath
of the talks, there was a palpable sense of disappointment as many sticking points reportedly had
been resolved. D-G Lamy claimed after the talked broke up that convergence had been reacked
on 18 of 20 issues. Summing up this effort, Brazilian President Lula da Silva reportedly said, “We 16
swam an entire ocean only to drown as we were reaching the beach.” However, other obstacles
in the agriculture, NAMA, and intellectual property rights talks may have been raised had the 17
If negotiators are not able to achieve a breakthrough, there may be several consequences for
multilateral trade liberalization. First, the negotiation of bilateral and regional free trade
agreements may accelerate. In the wake of the 2006 suspension, the United States, the EU, Brazil,
and India all announced plans to concentrate on additional bilateral liberalization.
A second consequence may be the increased use of the WTO’s dispute settlement function. If a
political solution to disagreements among members cannot be agreed through negotiations, some
practices like agricultural subsidies may be challenged in dispute settlement. An increased
reliance on dispute settlement may, in turn, put stress on the WTO as an institution if the
decisions rendered are not implemented or are not perceived as being fairly decided. A further
consequence may be the loss of agreements already made at the negotiations.
16 “Doha: Close But Not Enough,” Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, August 7, 2008; Washington Trade Daily,
August 13, 2008.
17 “Schwab Says An SSM Breakthrough Alone May Not Have Saved Round,” Inside U.S. Trade, August 1, 2008.
A third consequence of a prolonged impasse may be the withdrawal of offers already on the table.
Such development-oriented proposals such as aid-for-trade, duty-free and quota-free access for
least developed countries, or trade facilitation may languish due to the stalemate in the
negotiations. Other negotiating proposals currently on the table may not be reflected in future
government policy, such as in U.S. farm legislation, or the mid-course review of the EU’s
common agriculture policy in 2008.
The 2006 negotiating impasse put negotiators beyond the reach of agreement under U.S. trade
promotion authority (TPA), which expired on July 1, 2007. Thus, the parties are seeking to make th
progress in the negotiations in the hope that the 110 Congress may extend TPA. Possible
Congressional consideration of TPA extension legislation may provide a venue for a debate on the
status of the Round and the prospects for reaching an agreement consistent with principles set
forth by Congress in granting TPA.
Trade economists argue that the reduction of trade barriers allows a more efficient exchange of
products among countries and encourages economic growth. Multilateral negotiations offer the
greatest potential benefits by obliging countries throughout the world to reduce barriers to trade.
The gains to the United States and to the world from multilateral trade agreements have been
calculated in the billions of dollars. For example, a recent study by the International Trade
Commission found that if the tariff cuts from the Uruguay Round were removed, the welfare loss 18
to the United States would be about $20 billion. A study by the University of Michigan found
that if all trade barriers in agriculture, services, and manufactures were reduced by 33% as a result
of the Doha Development Agenda, there would be an increase in global welfare of $574.0 19
billion. Other studies present a more modest outcome predicting world net welfare gains 20
ranging from $84 billion to $287 billion by the year 2015.
Multilateral negotiations are especially important to developing countries that might otherwise be
left out of a regional or bilateral trade agreement. Developing country blocs can improve trade
and economic growth among its members, but the larger share of benefits are from the trade
agreements that open the markets of the world. Multilateral trade negotiations are also an exercise
in international cooperation and encourage economic interdependence, which offers political
benefits as well.
When a country opens its markets, however, increased imports might cause economic
dislocations at the local or regional level. Communities might lose factories. Workers might lose
18 U.S. International Trade Commission. The Impact of Trade Agreements: Effect of the Tokyo Round, U.S.-Israel FTA,
U.S.-Canada FTA, NAFTA, and the Uruguay Round on the U.S. Economy. Publication 3621. August 2003.
19 Brown, Drusilla K., Deardorff, Alan V. and Robert M. Stern. Computational Analysis of Multilateral Trade
Liberalization in the Uruguay Round and Doha Development Round. Discussion Paper No. 489. School of Public
Policy. The University of Michigan. December 8, 2002.
20 Thomas W. Hertel and Roman Keeney, “What is at Stake: The Relative Importance of Import Barriers, Export
Subsidies and Domestic Support,” in Anderson and Martin, eds., Agricultural Trade Reform in the Doha Agenda
(Washington: World Bank, 2005); and Kym Anderson, Will Martin, and Dominique van der Mensbrugge, “Doha
Merchandise Trade Reform: What’s At Stake for Developing Countries,” July 2005, available at
http://www.worldbank.org/trade/wto. The different outcomes in these studies are due substantially to differing
assumptions concerning liberalization resulting from the Doha Round as well as from differences in the econometric
models themselves. For example, the World Bank studies do not attempt to quantify services liberalization.
their jobs. For those who experience such losses, multilateral trade agreements do not improve
their economic well-being. Also, if a country takes an action that is not in compliance with an
agreement to which it is a party, it might face some form of sanction. Further, some oppose WTO
rules that restrict how a country is permitted to respond to imports of an overseas product that
employs an undesirable production method, for example a process that might use limited
resources or impose unfair working conditions. Thus, while multilateral trade agreements have
been found to offer broad economic benefits, they are opposed for a variety of reasons as well.
Doha Round talks are overseen by the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), whose chair is
Director-General Pascal Lamy. The negotiations are being held in five working groups and in
other, existing bodies in the WTO. Selected topics under negotiation are discussed below in five 21
groups: market access, development issues, WTO rules, trade facilitation, and other issues.
The Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture called for continued negotiations toward “...the
long-term objective of substantial progressive reductions in support and protection....” By early
2001, WTO members had achieved some preliminary work in those sectoral negotiations, and
later that year, agriculture was wrapped into the broader Doha agenda.
Agriculture has become the linchpin in the Doha Development Agenda.22 U.S. goals in the new
round were elimination of agricultural export subsidies, easing of tariffs and quotas, and
reductions in trade-distorting domestic support. The Doha Ministerial Declaration included
language on all of these three pillars of agricultural support. It stated that the members committed
to “comprehensive negotiations aimed at substantial improvements in market access; reductions
of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade
The course of the negotiations in the lead up to Cancun were influenced by the reform of the EU’s
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). A major issue for the EU was whether or not to approve
separation (“decoupling”) of payments to farmers based on production. Those types of payments
are among the most trade-distorting (“amber box”). On June 26, 2003, EU agriculture ministers
approved a reform package that included partial decoupling for certain products. The action was 23
seen by many as a positive step for advancing the trade negotiations.
21 For a detailed ‘state of play’ of the DDA following the Hong Kong Ministerial, see CRS Report RL33176, The
World Trade Organization: The Hong Kong Ministerial, by Ian F. Fergusson et al..
22 CRS Report RS22927, WTO Doha Round: Implications for U.S. Agriculture, by Randy Schnepf and Charles E.
23 See Buck, Tobias, Guy de Jonquieres and Frances Williams. “Fischler’s New Era for Europe’s Framers: Now the
Argument Over Agriculture Moves to the WTO.” Financial Times. June 27, 2003.
The EU reform largely addressed one of the three pillars of agricultural reform—domestic
support—but did little in a second pillar—market access. In the WTO negotiations on market
access, the United States and the Cairns Group have supported a leveling, or harmonizing, of
tariff peaks, or high rates. In comparison, the EU and Japan want flexibility to cut some items less
than others to arrive at an average total rate cut.
Another difficulty is “geographical indications,” or the protection of product names that reflect
the original location of the product. An example is the use of “Bordeaux wine” for wines from the
Bordeaux region only. Europeans, joined by India and some other countries, want a mandatory
registry of geographical indications that would prevent other countries from using the names. The
United States and other countries refuse to negotiate a mandatory list, but will accept a voluntary
list with no enforcement power. While the EU has said that it will not accept an agriculture
agreement without a geographical registry, it reportedly has lowered expectations to achieving a 24
registry for wines and spirits.
Developing countries view reform in agricultural trade as one of their most important goals. They
argue that their own producers cannot compete against the surplus agricultural goods that the
developed countries, principally the EU and the United States, are selling on the world market at
low, subsidized prices. Some African countries also are calling for an end to cotton subsidies,
claiming that such subsidies are destroying markets for the smaller African producers.
The July 2004 Framework Agreement provided a basis for which to continue the agriculture talks.
On domestic support, subsidies are to be reduced by means of a “tiered” or “banded” approach
applied to achieve “harmonization” in the levels of support. Subsidizing countries will make a
down-payment of a 20% reduction in levels of support in the first year of the agreement. Tariff
reduction will utilize a tiered formula with a harmonization component, but with some exceptions
for “import sensitive products.” The European Union finally agreed to the elimination of export
subsidies, considered a major negotiating goal of the United States.
While there was no breakthrough at the December 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial, members agreed
to eliminate export subsidies, and “export measures with equivalent effect” by 2013, a date
favored by the European Union (EU). Members agreed to cut domestic support programs with a
three band methodology. As the largest user of domestic agricultural subsidies, the EU was placed
in the highest band. The United States and Japan were placed in the second band and lesser
subsidizing countries were placed in the third band. However, the actual percentage cuts that
these bands represent remain subject to negotiation. Members also renewed a commitment to
achieve a tariff cutting formula by April 30, 2006. This deadline was not met. In the parallel
negotiations on cotton, members agreed to eliminate export subsidies for cotton and to provide
duty-free and quota-free access for LDC cotton producers by year-end 2006. Members also
agreed to reduce domestic support for cotton in a more ambitious manner than for other
agricultural commodities as an “objective” in the ongoing agricultural negotiations.
Talks to reach modalities proved unsuccessful at the July 23, 2006 meeting of the G-6 countries
in Geneva and the negotiations were suspended thereafter. Sources of the stalemate in the Geneva
talks included U.S. concerns about the magnitude of deviations from market access commitments
stemming from the so-called “3-S flexibilities”: sensitive products, special products, and the
special safeguard mechanism. While each of these flexibilities was incorporated into the 2004
24 “European Commission Lowers Expectations on Geographic Indications,” Inside U.S. Trade, October 5, 2007.
July Framework Agreement as negotiating modalities that would allow countries to exempt
certain products from the banded tariff formula, the United States contends that the scope
envisioned by some countries for these modalities would unacceptably diminish the overall 25
market access gains from the agreement. Conversely, the United States was under pressure at
the meeting from the EU and the G-20 group represented by Brazil and India to improve its
subsidy reduction offer, but the United States put no new offer on the table. The United States
insisted that it will not improve its offer on domestic subsidy reduction unless the EU improves
considerably its market access offer and the G-20 countries show a willingness to open their
markets not only to agricultural products but to industrial products and services as well. These
dynamics continued in 2007 discussions.
In July 2007, WTO Agriculture committee chairman Crawford Falconer submitted a draft
modality paper to address the divergent negotiating positions of the parties. As a result of
committee-based negotiations in Geneva, revisions to this draft were made in February, May and
July 2008, the latter of which became the basis for negotiations at the WTO summit in July 21-29 26
distorting domestic support of 66% or 73% for a total of $13.0-$16.4 billion and a reduction in
European domestic support of 75% or 85% to $22.7 billion - $38.1 billion. The Falconer draft
would cut U.S. and Japanese subsidies by equal percentages, resulting in a final cap on Japan’s
overall trade-distorting support (OTDS) of $12.3-$15.6 billion. The United States publicly offered
to cap OTDS at $14.5 billion on July 25, 2008, during the negotiating summit, conditional on
accepting the Lamy compromise package then on the table. While actual U.S. expenditures likely
have declined in the past few years due to higher commodity prices, this has not been reflected in
the U.S. negotiating position. The EU has set a 70% reduction as its upper bound. The G-20
group of developing countries, though, has demanded a reduction yielding an $11 billion cap in
Developed country tariffs would be cut in a tiered formula in equal increments over five years: a 27
70% reduction for tariffs currently above 75%, a 64% cut for tariffs currently between 50% and
75%, a 57% cut for tariffs currently between 20% and 50% and a 50% cut for tariffs between 0
and 20%. In addition, the draft stipulates a minimum tariff cuts of 54% for developed countries,
after application of the formula and other exceptions.
Developing countries would be able to cut 2/3 of the amount of cuts agreed by developed
countries from bands with higher thresholds in equal instalments over eight years. While
developed countries would have to cut 70% from tariffs currently above 75% (their highest tariff
band), developing countries would have to cut [43.6% or 48.2%] on all tariffs above 130%,
42.7% on tariffs between 80% and 130%, 38% for tariffs between 30% and 80%; and 33.3% on
tariffs between 0% and 30%.
The draft modalities also proposes that countries may designate 4-6% of their agricultural tariff
lines as sensitive, and thus subject to lower cuts. Developing countries would be allowed to claim
25 CRS Report RS22927, WTO Doha Round: Implications for U.S. Agriculture, by Randy Schnepf and Charles E.
26 All figures refer to the July 2008 draft modality, “Revised Draft Modalities for Agriculture,” (TN/AG/W/4/Rev.3),
July 10, 2008.
27 The 70% figure represents a convergence reached during the negotiating sessions from the 66%-73% range in the
July 2008 Falconer draft. See Chairman’s Falconer’s “Report to the Trade Negotiating Committee,” [Job(08)/95],
August 11, 2008. http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/agric_e/chair_texts08_e.htm
1/3 more tariffs lines as sensitive. The draft reaffirmed the Hong Kong Ministerial commitment to
eliminate export subsidies by 2013 and seeks elimination of the agriculture state trading
enterprises by 2013.
The July 2008 WTO summit ultimately broke down over the particulars of a special safeguard
mechanism (SSM), a proposal to allow developing countries to raise duties beyond bound levels 28
in instances of import surges or price depressions.
The concept of an SSM for developing countries had been a part of the Doha Round modalities
since the July Framework Agreement of 2004, the controversy revolved around the trigger level
and the resulting level of tariff increase. The Lamy proposal of July 25 posited an SSM that could
be triggered on a 40% surge above the level of base imports by imposing safeguards of 15% of
the bound rate. This level, broadly the position of the United States, was not acceptable to India
and several other developing countries, which sought a trigger of 10-15% surge above base
imports and a safeguard increase of 30% beyond the bound tariff. The United States also insisted
on a ceiling on the safeguard duties so that their imposition would not breach the existing (pre-29
Doha) bound rates.
Along with agriculture, services were a part of the “built-in agenda” of the Uruguay Round.30 The
General Agreement on Trade In Services (GATS), which was concluded in that Round, directs
Members to “...enter into successive rounds of negotiations, beginning not later than five years
from the date of entry into force of the WTO Agreement [January 1, 1995]...[to achieve] a
progressively higher level of liberalization.”
Those negotiations began in early 2000. Negotiating guidelines and procedures were established
by March 2001. Under the request-offer approach being used, countries first request changes in
other countries’ practices, other countries then respond by making offers of changes, and finally
the countries negotiate bilaterally on a final agreement. The Doha Ministerial Declaration
recognized the work already undertaken and reaffirmed the March 2001 guidelines as the basis
for continuing the negotiations. It directed participants to submit initial requests for specific
commitments by June 30, 2002 and initial offers by March 31, 2003.
The services talks are going slowly. By July 2005 the WTO had received 68 initial commitment
offers representing 92 countries (the EU represents 25 members) and 24 offers remained
outstanding from non-LDC members (55 if LDCs are included). Only 28 revised offers were
tendered by November 2005, although the July Framework stipulated a March 31, 2005 deadline.
All members were to have submitted their initial offers by March 31, 2003. Many have decried
the poor quality of offers, many of which only bind existing practices, rather than offer new
concessions and excluded some sectors entirely.
28 The SSM should not be confused with the Special (Agriculture) Safeguard (SSG) currently available to all countries
under the Uruguay Round Agriculture Agreement, the continuance of which is also a topic in the present negotiations.
29 For all the various permutations and proposals relating to the SSM, see the WTO Factsheet “An Unofficial Guide to
Agricultural Safeguards,” August 5, 2008,
30 See CRS Report RL33085, Trade in Services: The Doha Development Agenda Negotiations and U.S. Goals, by
William H. Cooper.
At Hong Kong, members committed to submit a second round of revised offers by July 31, 2006,
and to submit a final schedule of commitments by October 31, 2006. In order to expedite the
negotiating process, members also agreed to employ plurilateral requests to other members
covering specific sectors and modes of supply to be completed by February 28, 2006. In response
to this deadline, twenty-one plurilateral requests concerning 17 sectors and 4 modes of supply
were submitted, and 4 rounds of discussions have been held concerning them. In addition, six
rounds of bilateral request-offer meetings have been held among the participants since the end of
To some members including the United States, the talks have not yielded adequate offers of
improved market access. Consequently, various methods have been advocated to break the
stalemate in negotiations, from calls to prepare a services modalities text to the convening of a
signaling conference. A draft services negotiating text, released prior to the July 2008 mini-
ministerial, called for countries “to the maximum extent possible” respond to requests with
“deeper and/or wider commitments... commensurate with levels of development, regulatory 31
capacity, and national policy objectives.” While much of the activity during the July 21-29,
2008 Geneva talks continued to concern agriculture and industrial market access, participants did
hold a signaling conference on July 26 on the types of additional offers of services liberalization
countries would be willing to make provided an agreement was reached in the agriculture and
One area of controversy is so-called “Mode IV” services. Mode IV relates to the temporary
movement of business persons to another country in order to perform a service on-site.
Developing countries want easier movement of their nationals under Mode IV. They claim that
the services negotiations have centered on the establishment of businesses in other countries,
which has been a focus of developed countries, while there has been no negotiation on Mode IV,
which would help them. Developed countries, especially the United States, have opposed
discussions on Mode IV services trade. Congress might oppose easier entry for business persons, th
based on Senate approval of a resolution (S.Res. 211) in the 108 Congress expressing the sense
of the Senate that future U.S. trade agreements and implementing legislation should not contain
immigration-related provisions. Mode IV services will be a difficult issue to resolve. Fifteen
countries have joined a plurilateral request for Mode IV services liberalization to the United
States and other developed countries. At the abovementioned signaling conference, the United
States and the EU reportedly signaled increased flexibility on allowing more services 32
professionals access to their markets.
In the Doha Declaration, trade ministers agreed to negotiations to reduce or eliminate tariffs on 33
industrial or primary products, with a focus on “tariff peaks, high tariffs, and tariff escalation.”
Tariff peaks are considered to be tariff rates of above 15% and often protect sensitive products
from competition. Tariff escalation is the practice of increasing tariffs as value is added to a
31 “Elements Required for the Completion of the Services Negotiations: Note by the Chairman,” (Job08/79), July 17,
32 “U.S., EU Cite Moves in ‘Signaling’ Talks On Services; India Likes ‘Mode 4’ Openings,” International Trade
Reporter, July 31, 2008.
33 For a detailed account of the NAMA negotiations, see CRS Report RL33634, The World Trade Organization: The
Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) Negotiations, by Ian F. Fergusson.
commodity. The talks are also seeking to reduce the incidence of non-tariff barriers, which
include import licensing, quotas and other quantitative import restrictions, conformity assessment
procedures, and technical barriers to trade. The sectoral elimination of tariffs for specific groups
has also be forwarded as an area of negotiation. Negotiators accepted the concept of less than full
reciprocity in reductions for developing and least-developed countries.
Doha negotiators agreed to reach modalities for the reduction or elimination of tariffs and non-
tariff barriers by the end of May 2003. This deadline was, as were subsequent ones, not met.
NAMA issues were not discussed at Cancun, and there was no agreement on the draft texts
proposed for consideration at that Ministerial. The July 2004 Framework Agreement adopted the
use of a non-linear tariff reduction formula applied on a line-by-line basis, (i.e. one that it can
work towards evening out or harmonizing tariff levels), and the Hong Kong Ministerial did
agreed to use a Swiss formula. The Ministerial did not agree on coefficients, however, and these
have become the subject of continuing negotiations. The July 2004 Framework Agreement also
agreed that tariff reductions would be calculated from bound, rather than the applied, tariff rates.
Negotiators are also grappling with the concept of “flexibility,” or the nature and extent of
developing country-special and differential treatment, as it relates to formula cuts. In addition to
longer implementation times, the July Framework Agreement allows for less than formula cuts
for a certain (undetermined) amount tariff lines, keeping a percentage of tariff lines unbound, or
not applying formula cuts for an (undetermined) percentage of tariff lines (the so-called
Paragraph 8 flexibilities). At Hong Kong, negotiators did agree to provide tariff-free and quota-
free access for LCDs by 2008. However, this agreement provides the caveat that 3% of tariff lines
can be exempted as sensitive products such as textiles, apparel, and footwear.
The April 30, 2006 deadline, like so many before, was breached without agreement on the NAMA
formula or on other issues. The end of June Geneva summit also failed to reach agreement on
NAMA modalities. The United States, Canada, and Switzerland proposed a 5 percentage point
differential between the Swiss formula coefficients of developed and developing countries, which
is consistent with the EU proposal of a 10 coefficient for developed countries and a 15 coefficient
for developing countries. A group of developing countries known as the NAMA-11 proposed that 34
the differential should be at least 25 percentage points. The NAMA talks have been increasingly
linked to the agricultural talks, with some movement on one becoming increasingly linked to
progress in the other. Developing countries have been unwilling to commit on NAMA without
agreement on agriculture, but now some developed countries are tying further agriculture
progress to NAMA. This linkage has come be known as the “exchange rate” between the two
negotiations. A June 2007 G-4 meeting in Potsdam, Germany faltered in part over the rejection by
Brazil of a U.S. proposal of a 10-25 spread for developed and developing country coefficients, a 35
proposal that was a clear break from either country’s stated positions.
A draft modality paper was released on July 17, 2007 authored by Don Stephenson, the NAMA
negotiating chairman. Based on continuing committee level negotiations in Geneva, revisions to
this text were issued in February, May, and July 2008. This paper sought to reconcile the positions
of the parties to move the negotiations forward; as such, it faced mostly criticism from the diverse
negotiating groups. Following the July 2008 Ministerial, the chairman revised his text again to
reflect areas of “convergence” in the negotiations, while admitting that not all members accepted
34 Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, Special Update, July 3, 2006.
35 “G-4 Ministerial Talks Collapse; U.S., EU Blames Brazil and India over NAMA,” Inside U.S. Trade, June 22, 2007.
this convergence.36 The following discussion reflects this convergence while retaining the
brackets to indicate that these figures do not represent an agreement.
For the Swiss tariff reduction formula, the draft called for a coefficient of 8 for developed
countries and a range of coefficients of either [x=20][y=22][z=25] for developing countries
depending on which ‘Paragraph 7’ flexibility each country availed themselves. This scenario
would allow developing countries choose one of the following flexibilities based on the
coefficient x or y they chose for the tariff reduction formula: (1) apply less than formula cuts for
up to [14% for x][10% for y]of tariff lines provided that the cuts applied are no less than half the
formula cuts and that the tariff lines do not exceed [16% for x][10% for y] of the value of a
member’s non-agricultural imports, or (2) keep tariff lines unbound or not applying formula cuts
for [6.5% for x] [5% for y ]of tariff lines provided they do not exceed [7.5% for x][5% for y]of
the value of a member’s non-agricultural imports. Countries choosing coefficient z, which would
lead to the lowest tariff cuts under the formula, would not avail themselves of these flexibilities.
The use of these flexibilities has been further complicated by the so-called ‘anti-concentration
clause,’ which provides that the flexibilities available to developing countries shall not be used to
exclude full chapters of the harmonized tariff schedule (HS) from full formula reductions. Both
the United States and the EU have been adamant that the flexibilities should not be used in a way
to exclude whole industrial sectors from formula cuts, as reflected in the 2 digit HS chapter.
Meanwhile, developing countries have opposed expanding the anti-concentration clause beyond
the level of full chapters, as agreed by all members at the Hong Kong Ministerial. The August
2008 convergence text set full formula tariff reductions as a minimum of 20% of national tariff
lines in each HS chapter or 9% of the value of imports of the Member in each HS chapter.
Both the United States and the EU have favored using sectoral tariff elimination as a
supplemental modality for the NAMA negotiations. Negotiations have been heated on which
products to cover and the extent of participation (i.e. whether developing countries or LDCs
would be able exempt themselves from commitments). Proposals have been made for sectoral
negotiations in the automotive and related parts; bicycles and related parts; chemicals;
electronics/electrical products; fish and fish products; forest products; gems and jewelry; hand
tools; industrial machinery; open access to enhanced health care; raw materials; sports equipment;
toys; and textiles, clothing and footwear.
The United States has insisted that major developing countries participate in the sectorals, while
developing countries have countered that the negotiating mandate makes such negotiations
voluntary. The latest compromise language stipulates that countries would declare their intention
to participate in at least two sectoral negotiations, without prejudging that member’s decision to
join in the sectoral initiative resulting from those negotiations. Those developing countries that
did join, however, would be eligible to receive a higher coefficient in the Swiss formula.
As noted above, the industrial market access talks also encompass negotiations on the reduction
of non-tariff barriers (NTBs). The draft text includes several sectoral proposals concerning NTBs
for chemical products; electronics; electrical safety and electromagnetic compatibility; labeling of
textiles, clothing, footware, and travel goods; and automotive products. The text also includes a
proposal for a mechanism to resolve disputes over specific NTBs as they arise.
36 “Market Access for Non-Agricultural Products,” August 12, 2008 [Job(08)/96].
Three development issues are most noteworthy. One pertains to compulsory licensing of
medicines and patent protection. A second deals with a review of provisions giving special and
differential treatment to developing countries. A third addresses problems that developing
countries were having in implementing current trade obligations.
A major topic at the Doha Ministerial regarded the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of 37
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The issue involves the balance of interests between the
pharmaceutical companies in developed countries that held patents on medicines and the public
health needs in developing countries. Before the Doha meeting, the United States claimed that the
current language in TRIPS was flexible enough to address health emergencies, but other countries
insisted on new language.
Section 6 of the Doha document Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (TRIPS
Declaration), recognized that “...WTO Members with insufficient or no manufacturing
capabilities in the pharmaceutical sector could face difficulties in making effective use of
compulsory licensing under the TRIPS Agreement.” In Section 6, the trade ministers instructed
the WTO TRIPS Council “...to find an expeditious solution to this problem and to report to the
[WTO] General Council before the end of 2002.”
On December 16, 2002, then-TRIPS Council chairman Eduardo Perez Motta produced a draft
that would allow countries that lack the manufacturing capacity to produce medicines to issue
compulsory licenses for imports of the medicines. All WTO members approved of the chairman’s
draft except the United States. The U.S. position, representing the interests of the pharmaceutical
industry, was that the chairman’s draft did not include enough protections against possible misuse
of compulsory licenses. The United States sought a limit on the diseases that would be covered by
the chairman’s text, but other countries refused this initiative. The United States decided to
oppose the chairman’s draft and unilaterally promised not to bring a dispute against any least-
developed country that issued compulsory licenses for certain medicines.
One concern of the pharmaceutical industry was that the medicines sent to the developing country
might be diverted instead to another country. To address this problem, it was suggested that the
medicines be marked so that they can be tracked. Another concern was that more advanced
developing countries might use the generic medicines to develop their own industries. For this
problem, it was proposed that countries voluntarily “opt-out,” or promise not to use compulsory
On August 30, 2003, WTO members reached agreement on the TRIPS and medicines issue.
Voting in the General Council, member governments approved a decision that offered an interim
waiver under the TRIPS Agreement allowing a member country to export pharmaceutical
products made under compulsory licences to least-developed and certain other members. An
accompanying statement represented several “key shared understandings” of Members regarding
the Decision, including the recognition that the decision should be used to protect public health
37 See CRS Report RL33750, The WTO, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Access to Medicines Controversy, by Ian
and not be an instrument to pursue industrial or commercial policy objectives, and the recognition
that products should not be diverted from the intended markets. The statement listed a number of
countries that either agreed to opt out of using the system as importers or agreed that they would
only use the system in national emergencies or extreme urgency. At the 2005 Hong Kong
Ministerial, members agreed to a permanent amendment to incorporate the 2003 Decision, which
will become effective when it is ratified by two-thirds of the member states. To date, 43 countries
(including the 27 members of the EU) have ratified the agreement.
In the Doha Ministerial Declaration, the trade ministers reaffirmed special and differential (S&D)
treatment for developing countries and agreed that all S&D treatment provisions “...be reviewed
with a view to strengthening them and making them more precise, effective and operational.” In
the Declaration, the trade ministers endorsed the work program on S&D treatment presented in
another Doha document, Decision on Implementation-Related Issues and Concerns
(Implementation Decision). That document called on the WTO Committee on Trade and
Development to identify the S&D treatment provisions that are already mandatory and those that
are non-binding, and to consider the implications of “...converting [S&D] treatment measures into
mandatory provisions, to identify those that Members consider should be made mandatory, and to
report to the General Council with clear recommendations for a decision by July 2002.” It also
called for the Committee on Trade and Development “to examine additional ways in which S&D
treatment provisions can be made more effective, to consider ways...in which developing
countries...may be assisted to make best use of [S&D] treatment provisions.”
The negotiations have been split along a developing-country/developed-country divide.
Developing countries wanted to negotiate on changes to S&D provisions, keep proposals together
in the Committee on Trade and Development, and set shorter deadlines. Developed countries
wanted to study S&D provisions, send some proposals to negotiating groups, and leave deadlines
open. Developing countries claimed that the developed countries were not negotiating in good
faith, while developed countries argued that the developing countries were unreasonable in their
proposals. At the December 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial, members agreed to five S&D
provisions for LDCs, including the tariff-free and quota-free access for LDC goods described in
the NAMA section.
Developing countries claim that they have had problems with the implementation of the
agreements reached in the earlier Uruguay Round because of limited capacity or lack of technical
assistance. They also claim that they have not realized certain benefits that they expected from the
Round, such as increased access for their textiles and apparel in developed-country markets. They
seek a clarification of language relating to their interests in existing agreements.
Before the Doha Ministerial, WTO Members resolved a small number of these implementation
issues. At the Doha meeting, the Ministerial Declaration directed a two-path approach for the
large number of remaining issues: (a) where a specific negotiating mandate is provided, the
relevant implementation issues will be addressed under that mandate; and (b) the other
outstanding implementation issues will be addressed as a matter of priority by the relevant WTO
bodies. Outstanding implementation issues are found in the area of market access, investment
measures, safeguards, rules of origin, and subsidies and countervailing measures, among others.
The first WTO Ministerial Conference, which was held in Singapore in 1996, established
permanent working groups on four issues: transparency in government procurement, trade
facilitation, trade and investment, and trade and competition. These became known as the
Singapore issues. These issues were pushed at successive Ministerials by the European Union,
Japan and Korea, and opposed by most developing countries. The United States was lukewarm
about the inclusion of these issues, indicating that it could accept some or all of them at various
times, but preferring to focus on market access.
In 2001, the Doha Ministerial Declaration called for further clarification on the four Singapore th
issues to be undertaken before the 5 Ministerial in 2003 (at Cancún), and for negotiations to be th
launched on the basis of a decision taken by explicit consensus at the 5 Ministerial. At Cancún,
deadlock over the Singapore issues was a contributing factor in the breakup of that summit. After
further negotiations during 2004, a compromise was reached in the July 2004 Framework
Agreement: three of the Singapore issues (government procurement, investment, and
competition) were dropped and negotiations would begin on trade facilitation.
Trade facilitation aims to improve the efficiency of international trade by harmonizing and
streamlining customs procedures such as duplicative documentation requirements, customs
processing delays, and nontransparent or unequally enforced importation rules and requirements.
The talks have thus far revolved around the scope and obligations of the new disciplines. Member
countries have tabled proposals dealing with freedom of transit, fees and formalities, and
administrative transparency. These proposals are reportedly being reviewed, refined, and drafted
into legal provisions that will form the basis of a negotiating text.
Discussions have also occurred concerning the technical assistance and trade capacity building
needed by developing countries to implement any subsequent agreement. Developing countries
are in the process of assessing their own trade facilitation status, and what it will take to bring
them up to international standards with the help of customs experts from organizations such as
the World Bank and the World Customs Organization. Developed countries, including the United
States and the European Union, favor the negotiation of a concrete rules-based system with
appropriate accountability, while some developing countries prefer optional guidelines with
Although negotiations have proceeded in a constructive manner, no major breakthroughs in trade
facilitation were announced at Hong Kong Ministerial and no date has been set for beginning
text-based negotiations. No negotiating document has, thus far, been tendered.
The Doha Round negotiations included an objective of “clarifying and improving disciplines”
under the WTO Agreements on Antidumping (AD) and on Subsidies and Countervailing 38
Measures (ASCM). The United States sought to keep negotiations on trade remedies outside of
38 See CRS Report RL32810, WTO: Antidumping Issues in the Doha Development Agenda, by Vivian C. Jones.
the Doha Round, but found many WTO partners insistent on including them for discussion. U.S.
negotiators did manage to insert language asserting that “...basic concepts, principles and
effectiveness of these Agreements and their instruments and objectives” would be preserved.
However, Congressional leaders were highly critical of this concession by U.S. trade 39
The Doha Ministerial Declaration also called for clarifying and improving disciplines on fisheries
subsidies, and both the Ministerial Declaration and the Implementation Decision have special
provisions on trade remedies and developing countries. In addition to trade remedies, the
Declaration calls for clarifying and improving WTO disciplines and procedures on regional trade
agreements. The Declaration identified two phases for the work on trade remedies: “In the initial
phase of the negotiations, participants will indicate the provisions, including disciplines on trade
distorting practices, that they seek to clarify and improve in the subsequent phase.” No deadlines
were set for these phases.
The United States has primarily been on the defensive in the rules talks. Many countries have
attacked the use of antidumping actions by the United States and other developed nations as
disguised protectionism. However, many developing countries are now using antidumping actions
themselves, which may goad some countries to reexamine the necessity for discipline. Most of
the proposals on trade remedies focus on providing more specificity or restrictions to the
AD/ASCM Agreements in terms of definitions and procedures. Yet, no agreements have been
reached, even on what is to be negotiated.
The leading proponents of such changes have been a group of 15 developed and developing
countries known as the “Friends of Antidumping” (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong
Kong, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand,
and Turkey; though not all countries sign onto every proposal). They have made numerous
proposals, and in essence their proposals would reduce the incidence and amount of duties. Many
of their proposals would require a change in U.S. laws. Although the EU is a major user of trade
remedies and not a member of the “Friends” group, it has agreed with some of the group’s
The United States itself has sought some changes in the WTO rules, submitting papers on
antidumping proposals on issues such as transparency, foreign practices to circumvent a duty
order, and the WTO standard used by dispute panels in reviewing national applications of trade
remedy laws. The United States also has submitted proposals on subsidies, such as expanding a
list of prohibited subsidies and imposing disciplines on support to sales of natural resources.
The Rules negotiations Chair, Guillermo Valles Galmés, released a draft modalities paper on
November 30, 2007. A key feature of this draft was language allowing the use of zeroing in 40
certain antidumping (AD) calculations. The draft is widely seen as a concession to the United
States, the only country that now employs the zeroing methodology, which has faced several
adverse Appellate Body decisions over the practice. While the United States expressed
disappointment that the text did not go far enough in legitimizing the practice, several countries
39 “Zoellick Stance on Trade Remedy in WTO Provokes Criticism.” Inside U.S. Trade. November 13, 2001.
40 In determining dumping margins, zeroing refers to a calculation whereby only goods sold in the export market at less
than the domestic market price are counted; goods sold in the export market at higher than domestic price are assigned
a value of zero, thus tending to increase the dumping margin. “Draft Consolidated Texts of the AD and SCM Treaties,”
November 30, 2007, (TN/RL/W/213).
including the “Friends of Antidumping” group and others were harshly critical of the draft text as 41
rolling back Appellate Body decisions on zeroing. Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Chair
Rangel, Trade Subcommittee Chair Levin, Senate Finance Chair Baucus and Senator Rockefeller
wrote to USTR Schwab charging that the draft text would violate language in trade promotion
authority to avoid agreements that would weaken U.S. antidumping and unfair trade remedy 42
The November 2007 draft modalities paper also put forth a proposed modality on fisheries
subsidies. The proposal would ban some subsidies outright such as those boost fishing capacity or
encourage over-fishing. Exceptions would be allowed for subsidies associated with operations of
fisheries management programs and for certain special and differential treatment for developing
countries, provided that they adopt fisheries management programs. The extent of this special
treatment and the treatment of subsidies for small-scale fishing in both developed and developing 43
countries remain topics for debate.
At the end of the Uruguay Round, trade ministers called for a full review of WTO dispute
settlement rules and procedures within four years after entry into force of the agreement
establishing the WTO. That deadline, January 1, 1999, passed without a review being 44
At Doha, trade ministers continued to call for a review of dispute rules. The Ministerial
Declaration directed that negotiations be held on improvements and clarifications of the Dispute
Settlement Understanding (DSU). They stated that the negotiations should be based on work done
so far and on any additional proposals. They set a deadline of May 2003. They directed that these
DSU negotiations would be separate from the rest of the negotiations and would not be a part of
the single undertaking.
Members are examining nearly all of the 27 Articles in the DSU. In early April 2003, the chair of
the working group circulated a framework document that included over 50 proposals. There was
some dissatisfaction that the document needed more focus. On May 16, 2003, the chair issued
another text that was accepted by most countries. The United States and the EU favored
additional reforms that were not a part of the text. For example, the United States has called for
open public access to proceedings, and the EU had sought a roster of permanent dispute panelists.
The Ministerial Declaration included several provisions on trade and environment. Among the
provisions, the trade ministers agreed to the following: (1) negotiations on the relationship
between existing WTO rules and trade obligations in multilateral environmental agreements
41 “U.S. Defends Rules Language on Zeroing,” Washington Trade Daily, December 13, 2007.
42 “Key Democrats, Administration Lay Out Objections to Rules Text,” Inside U.S. Trade, December 14, 2007.
43 (TN/RL/W/213), Annex VII; “Members Remain Divided on Fisheries Draft Text”, Bridges Trade BioRes, April 4,
44 See CRS Report RS20088, Dispute Settlement in the World Trade Organization: An Overview, by Jeanne J.
(MEAs); (2) procedures for the exchange of information between MEA Secretariats and WTO
committees, and the criteria for granting observer status; and (3) the reduction or elimination of
trade barriers to environmental goods and services.
Concerning the third negotiating objective, the United States and the European Union unveiled a
two-tiered tariff elimination proposal on November 30, 2007. The first tier would be the
elimination on tariffs on 43 goods and services directly related to climate change mitigation such
as wind-turbine parts, solar collectors, and hydrogen fuel cells. All countries would be obliged to
take on this mandate, although certain phase-in periods are contemplated for developing and
least-developed countries. The second phase would be the creation of a plurilateral
Environmental Goods and Services Agreement (EGSA) that would liberalise 153 additional
environmental-related goods and services among developed and advanced developing countries.
However, this proposal has been criticized by several developing countries. Brazil has decried the
omission of biofuels from the list, as well as biofuel production equipment. India has questioned 45
the inclusion of certain ‘dual-use’ goods, those that also have non-environmental uses.
Although the executive branch conducts trade negotiations in the WTO, the Congress has
constitutional responsibility for regulation of U.S. foreign commerce. As part of this
constitutional role, Congress conducts oversight of the negotiations. Oversight might be in the
forms of hearings or meetings with executive branch officials. Members often communicate their
positions through public statements and letters. In the spring of 2007, for example, a bipartisan
group of 58 Senators wrote to President Bush to caution against further concessions in the 46
agricultural talks and to press for increased market access for U.S. farm exports.
Trade Promotion Authority expired on July 1, 2007. In the Trade Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-210),
Congress prescribed trade objectives for U.S. negotiators in the Doha Development Agenda and
in other trade negotiations. These objectives gave direction to negotiators on U.S. priorities.
Congress also outlined requirements that the executive branch must meet, as a condition for
expedited procedures for legislation to implement trade agreements, including those reached in
the Doha Development Agenda. Among the conditions for expedited legislative procedures, the
executive branch must consult with Congress at various stages of the negotiations, notify
Congress before taking specified actions, and submit reports as outlined.
Expedited procedures would apply to any trade agreement entered into (signed) before July 1,
2005. A two-year extension to that deadline was written in to the 2002 Act if the President
requested the extension and Congress did not disapprove it. This request was requested by the
President on March 30, 2005, and Congress took no action to disapprove it by the June 30, 2005
deadline. Thus, TPA was extended until July 1, 2007, when it expired. The Administration may th
ask the 110 Congress to renew or extend TPA to consider a future Doha Round agreement.
Congress may use such a request as an opportunity to assess the prospects for completion of a
45 “EU, US Call for Eliminating Trade Barriers to Climate-Friendly Goods and Services,” Bridges Weekly, December 5,
2007 (www.ictsd.org); “U.S.- EU Environmental Goods, Services Proposal Faces Stiff Opposition,” Inside U.S. Trade,
December 7, 2007.
46 Letter to President Bush, April 12, 2007, http://finance.senate.gov/press/Bpress/2007press/prb041607a.pdf.
Doha Round agreement and to evaluate the Administration’s compliance with Congress’ trade
negotiating objectives as set forth in the original TPA.
Ian F. Fergusson
Specialist in International Trade and Finance