How the negotiations are organized

The November 2001 declaration of the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, provides the mandate for negotiations on a range of subjects, and other work including issues concerning the implementation of the present agreements.

The negotiations take place in the Trade Negotiations Committee and its subsidiaries.

Other work under the work programme takes place in other WTO councils and committees.

Organization and management of the negotiations

The Doha Declaration organizes work on the negotiations and other tasks (relevant paragraphs in brackets).

Timetable

Revised timetable for 2006, as agreed at the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.

 
These are dates and deadlines set in the Doha Declaration, now missed:

  • Deadline for Dispute Settlement Understanding negotiations: May 2003
  • Deadline for negotiations on registration system for geographical indications: 5th Ministerial Conference in 2003 (in Mexico)
  • Stock taking: 5th Ministerial Conference in 2003 (in Mexico)
  • Deadline for other negotiations: by 1 January 2005 as single undertaking
  • Decision on adopting and implementing results: Special Session of Ministerial Conference — date not set yet
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Structure

(par 46)

> TNC Chairperson’s statement on organization of work, 1 February 2002

Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) under the authority of the General Council, set up by the Doha Declaration. Chairperson: WTO Director-General until the end of the negotiations.
  

 

See also:
> Organization chart
> Current WTO chairpersons

Negotiating groups The Trade Negotiations Committee agreed the following structure.

In new negotiating groups:

In existing bodies:

The 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:


Principles

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

Participation: The negotiations are open to all WTO members and to observer governments negotiating or intending to negotiate membership. But decisions on the outcomes are only taken by members.

Transparency: The negotiations have to be transparent.

Special and differential treatment: The negotiations have to take fully into account the principle of special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries.

Sustainable development: The Trade and Development and Trade Environment identify and debate developmental and environmental aspects of the negotiations to ensure that sustainable development is appropriately reflected.

Subjects not negotiated: Elements of the work programme which do not involve negotiations are also accorded a high priority. The General Council is to report on their progress to the Fifth Ministerial Conference in 2003.

See also:
> “principles and practices” detailed in Trade Negotiations Committee, 1 February 2002
> TNC Chairperson’s statement on organization of work, 1 February 2002