Other briefing notes:
> Non-agricultural market access (NAMA)
property: geographical indications and biodiversity
> Trade and environment
> Trade facilitation
> Special and differential treatment
> Dispute settlement
> Jargon buster
> Country groupings
note on intellectual property: non-violation complaints
> Rules negotiations
> Doha declaration
> Doha declaration explained
- The negotiations are aimed at “clarifying and improving disciplines” under the Agreements on Anti-Dumping, and on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.
- Participants also aim to “clarify and improve WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies, taking into account the importance of this sector to developing countries”.
- The negotiations are also aimed at “clarifying and improving disciplines and procedures under the existing WTO provisions applying to regional trade agreements”.
In general, dumping occurs when the price of
a product sold in the importing country is less than the price of that
product in the market of the exporting country. Under the WTO, members
can impose anti-dumping measures if they can show that the dumped
imports are harming the domestic industry producing the “like”
product. The Anti-Dumping Agreement, among other things, defines the
conditions that must be satisfied in order to impose anti-dumping
measures, lays down transparency and due process rules governing the
conduct of anti-dumping investigations, and regulates the duration of
More than 3,500 anti-dumping investigations have been launched since
WTO came into being in 1995. Anti-dumping initiations rose from 157 in
1995 to 366 in 2001, then after a period of substantial decline rose
to 208 in 2008 from 163 in 2007. Although anti-dumping was
traditionally used primarily by developed countries, developing
countries such as India, South Africa, Argentina and China now account
for the majority of anti-dumping actions.
An informal group of 15 participants
(Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Hong Kong, China; Israel; Japan;
Korea; Mexico; Norway; Singapore; Switzerland; Chinese Taipei;
Thailand; and Turkey), calling themselves “Friends of Anti-Dumping
Negotiations” (FANs), believe that the existing Anti-Dumping Agreement
should be improved to counter what they consider to be an abuse of the
way anti-dumping measures can be applied. They have tabled many
proposals for tightening disciplines on the conduct of anti-dumping
The US and other major users of anti-dumping
have emphasized the importance of ensuring that anti-dumping measures
remain effective in addressing unfair trade. They have also proposed a
number of amendments to the anti-dumping and countervailing rules.
Subsidies and countervailing measures
The negotiations in subsidies and countervailing measures relate to two related subjects: the multilateral disciplines governing the provision of subsidies by members, and the disciplines on the use of countervailing measures against subsidized imports. With respect to multilateral subsidies disciplines, there have been an increasing number of WTO disputes in recent years, relating for example to commercial vessels, regional aircraft, large civil aircraft, and cotton. With respect to countervailing measures, some 202 countervailing-duty investigations have been initiated since 1995. The number of initiations has gone down from a peak of 41 in 1999 to 14 in 2008.
Although there have been fewer proposals on subsidies than on anti-dumping, a wide range of proposals have nevertheless been submitted regarding prohibited subsidies, actionable subsidies and export credits. Many proposals made in the anti-dumping negotiations, such as with respect to injury determinations and investigation procedures, may also be relevant in the context of countervailing measures.
An informal grouping of members calling
themselves the “Friends of Fish” (including Argentina, Australia,
Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Pakistan, Peru and the
United States) say that subsidies to the fisheries sector — estimated
at $14–$20.5 billion annually, or 20–25 per cent of revenues — have
led to over-capacity and overfishing. Japan, the Rep. of Korea and
Chinese Taipei, on the other hand, have expressed scepticism over the
link between subsidies and over-fishing. Many developing countries are
asking for flexibility in granting subsidies to their fisheries
sectors. The focus of the discussions has evolved significantly since
the beginning of the Doha Round: it is no longer on whether there
would be any new disciplines but rather on the approach to, and
structure of, such disciplines. The Group has also extensively
discussed special and differential treatment for developing countries.
The WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong,
China in December 2005 directed the Group “to intensify and accelerate
the negotiating process,” and also mandated the Chairman to prepare
consolidated texts of the Anti-Dumping and Subsidies Agreements “that
shall be the basis for the final stage of the negotiations.”
The chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules,
Amb. Guillermo Valles Galmés of Uruguay, on 30 November 2007
circulated to members his first
draft consolidated texts on anti-dumping and subsidies and
countervailing measures, including fisheries subsidies. The Chair’s
texts proposed a number of changes in the Anti-Dumping and Subsidies
The texts proposed, for the first time in
GATT/WTO, a special set of rules to discipline fishery subsidies,
which are considered by some to be a main cause of depletion of fish
stocks all over the world. These disciplines are contained in a
proposed new Annex VIII to the Subsidies Agreement. The texts propose
a prohibited category, which include subsidies for construction of new
fishing vessels and those for operating costs of fishing. LDCs are
exempted from the new disciplines. Developing countries are given
substantial flexibilities, especially for small-scale fishing in their
territorial waters. Exceptions to the disciplines are conditioned on
the existence of fisheries management programmes.
A series of informal meetings from December 2007 to May 2008 revealed
sharply-conflicting views in the Group on many issues in the texts. In
December 2008, the Chair issued revised texts on the Anti-Dumping and
Subsidies Agreements reflecting "a bottom-up approach." He said he
proposed draft legal language only in those areas where "some degree
of convergence appears to exist," and put in "brackets" a number of
issues where he did not have a basis to propose compromise solutions.
There are 11 such brackets in the Anti-Dumping Agreement — from
"anti-circumvention" (action against attempts to sidestep anti-dumping
measures) to "zeroing" (a methodology for calculating dumping
margins). Four bracketed issues were identified by the Chair in the
Subsidies Agreement — covering issues such as loans by loss-making
institutions and export credits.
On fisheries subsidies, the Chair said the text would be revised
following the Group's discussion of a "roadmap" listing issues in the
Regional trade agreements
The world faces the prospect of 400 regional trade agreements (RTAs) by 2010 and the challenge is to ensure they contribute to the health of world trade. It is estimated that more than half of world trade is now conducted under agreements of this kind. An
“early harvest” in this area was the adoption by WTO members in December 2006 of a mechanism to enhance the transparency of RTAs.
The Group is expected to resume discussions on “systemic issues” regarding RTAs, such as:
how to interpret the WTO requirement that RTAs cover “substantially all the trade”; regulations that could restrict trade such as rules of origin under preferential schemes; and how regional agreements relate to development.
Find out more