The Doha Round

The Doha Round is the latest round of trade negotiations among the WTO membership. Its aim is to achieve major reform of the international trading system through the introduction of lower trade barriers and revised trade rules. The work programme covers about 20 areas of trade. The Round is also known semi-officially as the Doha Development Agenda as a fundamental objective is to improve the trading prospects of developing countries.

The Round was officially launched at the WTO’s Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. The Doha Ministerial Declaration provided the mandate for the negotiations, including on agriculture, services and an intellectual property topic, which began earlier.

In Doha, ministers also approved a decision on how to address the problems developing countries face in implementing the current WTO agreements.

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The Doha Round in brief 


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How the negotiations are organized 

The negotiations take place in the Trade  Negotiations Committee and specific negotiating groups. Other work under the work programme takes place in WTO councils and committees.

Virtually every item of the negotiation is part of a whole and indivisible package and cannot be agreed separately. This is known as the “single undertaking”: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

> More on how the negotiations are organized


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The Doha Ministerial Declaration  

Most of the subjects treated involve negotiations; other work includes actions under “implementation”, analysis and monitoring.


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The implementation decision 

Around 100 implementation issues were raised in the lead-up to the Doha Ministerial Conference. The implementation decision, combined with paragraph 12 of the main Doha Declaration, provides a two-track solution. More than 40 items under 12 headings were settled at or before the Doha conference, for immediate delivery; and the vast majority of the remaining items are immediately the subject of negotiations:


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Development: the heart of the Doha Development Agenda 

When they launched the Doha Round, ministers placed development at its centre. “We seek to place developing countries’ needs and interests at the heart of the Work Programme adopted in this Declaration,” they said. “… We shall continue to make positive efforts designed to ensure that developing countries, and especially the least-developed among them, secure a share in the growth of world trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development. In this context, enhanced market access, balanced rules, and well targeted, sustainably financed technical assistance and capacity-building programmes have important roles to play.”