Doha Ministerial Declaration, which sets the mandate for the
negotiations, required WTO members to set up a Trade Negotiations
Committee (TNC) by 31 January 2002. The TNC would then
establish negotiating mechanisms and supervise the negotiations under
the authority of the General Council.
TNC held its first meeting on 28 January. After four days of
discussions and consultations, the meeting resumed on 1 February.
is what was agreed:
Where the negotiations take place
the Trade Negotiations Committee, which reports to the General
new negotiating groups:
rules (anti-dumping, subsidies, regional trade agreements)
in special sessions of the Agriculture Committee
in special sessions of the Services Council
indications, a multilateral registration system: in special
sessions of the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS). Other TRIPS issues given priority in
regular TRIPS Council meetings
Settlement Understanding: in special sessions of the Dispute
in special sessions of the Trade and Environment Committee
on outstanding implementation issues: in relevant
bodies according to paragraph 12 of the Doha Ministerial
Declaration. (See explanation)
decision also places considerable emphasis on special and differential
treatment for developing countries in three ways. It affirms that this
is an integral part of the WTO
agreements. All negotiations and other aspects of the Doha agenda’s
work programme are to take this principle fully into account. And all
special and differential provisions are to be reviewed to make them
more precise, effective and operational. To this end:
of all special and differential treatment provisions: in special
sessions of the Trade and Development Committee
Trade Negotiations Committee chairperson is the WTO director-general
in an official capacity. The meeting agreed that this would apply
until the end of the negotiations, which ministers fixed in Doha as
1 January 2005.
the other chairpersons, since the Trade Negotiations Committee has
only just decided on the negotiating groups and special sessions, none
have been appointed yet. General Council Chairperson Stuart Harbinson
will consult members on this.
meeting agreed that the selection should aim for an “overall balance
between developed and developing country candidates, bearing in mind
the quality and integrity of each individual”. The majority should
be representatives based in Geneva, WTO members decided, but some
officials based in members’ capitals could be chosen, provided they
are available in Geneva as often as needed, and that the costs no
members would be put at a disadvantage because of the costs.
member governments also agreed that the chairpersons would serve until
the Fifth Ministerial Conference, which is scheduled to take place in
Mexico in 2003, and to take stock of progress in the negotiations.
Trade Negotiations Committee is to meet once every two or three
months, more frequently if necessary.
Principles and practices back
Stuart Harbinson, who chairs the General Council and opened the first Trade Negotiations Committee meeting,
distributed a written report on his consultations with delegations
which led to these TNC decisions. It included some principles and practices for the
committee and the negotiations. The meeting took note and endorsed them.
Council authority. The Trade Negotiations Committee comes
under the authority of the General Council. The committee and the
other negotiating bodies are therefore not a parallel structure. The
General Council remains responsible for the whole work programme
agreed at the Doha Ministerial Conference, and for preparations for
all Ministerial Conferences — the next conference is an important
step in the negotiations since it will take stock of progress.
The Doha Declaration says the negotiations should be transparent among
all members and should allow all members to participate effectively.
In order achieve this, the committee will follow “best practices
established over the past two years” on internal transparency. This
was spelt out by the then chairperson at a July 2000 meeting of
the General Council — recorded in minutes WT/GC/M/57. Briefly, this
required all members to have an opportunity to debate their views in
informal consultations, and to follow informal consultations through
frequent reporting back to meetings of the full membership.
search for WT/GC/M/57
in Documents Online
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addition, the minutes of the Trade Negotiations Committee and the
other negotiating bodies are to be
circulated quickly in all three official languages (English, French
and Spanish). And the WTO Secretariat is to make sure all information
about the negotiations reaches delegations with small missions and
those without missions in Geneva, quickly and efficiently.
The Trade Negotiations Committee is to monitor and supervise the
timetable of all negotiations meetings so that the schedule takes into
account the constraints of smaller delegations. As a guideline, on
more than one negotiating body should meet at the same time.
committee should also clarify which WTO bodies should handle
outstanding implementation issues under paragraph 12 of the Doha
Declaration. (Paragraph 12 says “negotiations on outstanding
implementation issues shall be an integral part of the Work Programme”
in the coming years. The ministers established a two-track approach.
Those issues for which there was an agreed negotiating mandate in the
declaration would be dealt with under the terms of that mandate. Those
implementation issues where there is no mandate to negotiate, would be
the taken up as “a matter of priority” by relevant WTO councils
and committees. These bodies are to report on their progress to the
Trade Negotiations Committee by the end of 2002 for “appropriate
of the TNC and negotiating bodies.
All chairpersons must be impartial and objective, working according to
the mandate that ministers conferred. They should aim to achieve
consensus and produce consensus texts wherever possible. They should
encourage transparency and inclusiveness in decision-making, taking
into account the WTO’s character as an organization of governments
with decisions taken by members. Their reporting to supervising bodies
should reflect consensus — if that is not possible, it should
reflect different positions on issues.
General Council is to ensure continuity in the Trade Negotiations
Committee’s work during the transition from the present director-general to
the next. The committee’s chairperson is to work closely with the
General Council chairperson and those of the negotiating bodies.
Trade Negotiations Committee picks up the negotiating mandate that WTO
ministers agreed in Doha, 14 November 2001. This launches
negotiations on a range of subjects and incorporates existing
negotiations on agriculture, services, and the multilateral
registration system for geographical indications on wines and spirits.
All but one of the negotiations are part of a
“single undertaking” (they form a single package with all members
participating), with stock-taking scheduled for the 2003 Fifth
Ministerial Conference in Mexico, and 1 January 2005 set as the
concluding deadline. The separate negotiation is on the Dispute
Settlement Understanding (with a May 2003 deadline).
implementation and development: the Doha agenda