WASHINGTON - The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), on behalf of the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), is seeking public comments on U.S. negotiating objectives and the work program launched at the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November at Doha. These views will be considered as the Administration develops its positions for U.S. participation in the negotiations. Comments are due by May 1.
"The Declaration launching new global trade negotiations lays the ground work for trade liberalization that can lead to greater growth, opportunity and development around the world and in the United States," said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. "We need to hear from all sectors and interests to ensure that we are aggressively pursuing issues of concern and making full use of the opportunities in the WTO to expand market access and strengthen the rules of the trading system."
The request for comments, to be published in the Federal Register, seeks input on the general U.S. negotiating objectives, as well as country-specific and product- specific issues. The request is available in PDF format.
The Doha Declaration agreed to at the WTO's Fourth Ministerial Meeting established a negotiating agenda that is to conclude no later than January 1, 2005, and sets out a number of issues to be considered further at the next ministerial meeting of the WTO in 2003. In addition to the mandated negotiations in agriculture and services, the negotiation of a multilateral system of notification and registration of wines and spirits, and the negotiation of improvements to the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), negotiations at Doha were launched on market access for non-agricultural products; WTO rules (on antidumping, subsidies, fisheries subsidies, and regional trade agreements); and on limited aspects of the relationship between WTO and multilateral environmental agreements. The Doha agenda foresees further work on the so-called Singapore issues of Trade and Competition, Trade and Investment, Transparency in Government Procurement, and Trade Facilitation, leading to decisions on negotiations by the time of the WTO's Fifth Ministerial Meeting in 2003.
In addition, the Doha agenda focuses on a variety of issues relating to the regular work program of the WTO which have a bearing on the negotiations, including: further work on implementation of the existing Agreements; integration of developing countries into the multilateral trade system; trade-related technical assistance and capacity building; small economies; special and differential treatment; treatment of least-developed countries; electronic commerce; rade, debt and finance; trade and technology; and the work of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE).
The Trade Negotiations Committee, which is chaired by the WTO's Director General, works in close cooperation with the WTO General Council. Now that work on organizational and procedural issues has been completed and the negotiating structure has been established, governments are beginning the detailed work of developing proposals and identifying issues for negotiations. Negotiations in areas such as agriculture and services are farther advanced, having begun in 2000.
The text of the Ministerial Declaration launching the new global trade negotiations, as well as the Declaration on Intellectual Property Protection (TRIPS) and Access to Medicines and Public Health and the Decision on Implementation-Related Concerns Raised by Developing Countries can be found on the WTO website.