Working Group on the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy (WGTCP) — History, Mandates and Decisions

The work of the Working Group on the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy has been guided by mandates and decisions adopted at various Ministerial Conferences and in the WTO General Council. The most important are:
(i) the decision taken at the Singapore Ministerial Conference to establish the Working Group;
(ii) the provisional decision regarding the launching of negotiations taken at the Doha Ministerial Conference; and
(iii) the decision taken by the General Council in July 2004, which determined that no further work toward negotiations would take place within the WTO during the Doha Round.

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Singapore Ministerial Conference (1996) 

The Singapore Ministerial Conference of the WTO (1996) set up the Working Group on the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy “to study issues raised by Members relating to the interaction between trade and competition policy, including anti-competitive practices, in order to identify any areas that may merit further consideration in the WTO framework”.

> Singapore Ministerial Declaration para 20


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Doha Ministerial Conference (2001) 

At the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha (2001), Ministers “recognized the case for a multilateral framework to enhance the contribution of competition policy to international trade and development, and the need for enhanced technical assistance and capacity-building in this area”. They “agreed that negotiations will take place after the Fifth Session of the Ministerial Conference on the basis of a decision to be taken, by explicit consensus, at that Session on modalities of negotiations”. They instructed the Working Group to focus, until the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancún (2001), “on the clarification of:

- core principles, including transparency, non-discrimination and procedural fairness

- provisions on hardcore cartels;

- modalities for voluntary cooperation; and

- support for progressive reinforcement of competition institutions in developing countries through capacity building”.

> Doha Ministerial Declaration para 23-25


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Cancún Ministerial Conference (2003) 

At the Ministerial Conference in Cancún (2003), no consensus could be reached on modalities for negotiations in this area, although Ministers “reaffirmed all there Doha Declarations and Decisions and recommitted themselves to working to implement them fully and faithfully”.


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The “July Decision” (2004) 

In the “July 2004 package” adopted 1 August 2004, the WTO General Council decided that the issue of competition policy “will not form part of the Work Programme set out in that Declaration and therefore no work towards negotiations on any of these issues will take place within the WTO during the Doha Round”. The Working Group is currently inactive.