Doha Mandate and Its Future – Language

13 October 2015

1. Strong reaffirmations of the DDA

“reaffirm all our Doha Declarations and Decisions and recommit ourselves to working to implement them fully and faithfully” (Cancun Ministerial Statement, 2003)

“The [General Council] reaffirms the Ministerial Declarations and Decisions adopted at Doha and the full commitment of all Members to give effect to them. (July 2004 framework)

“We reaffirm the Declarations and Decisions we adopted at Doha, as well as the Decision adopted by the General Council on 1 August 2004, and our full commitment to give effect to them. We renew our resolve to complete the Doha Work Programme fully and to conclude the negotiations launched at Doha successfully in 2006”. (Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration 2005)

“Ministers remain committed to work actively, in a transparent and inclusive manner, towards a successful multilateral conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda in accordance with its mandate” (Chairman’s Statement, MC8 2011)

We reaffirm our commitment to the WTO as the pre-eminent global forum for trade, including negotiating and implementing trade rules, settling disputes and supporting development through the integration of developing countries into the global trading system. In this regard, we reaffirm our commitment to the Doha Development Agenda, as well as to the regular work of the WTO.

(Bali Ministerial Declaration, Part III Post-Bali work, first paragraph)

Call upon all WTO Members to fully commit themselves to the successful conclusion of the DDA as the only agenda for the WTO’s post-Bali work program’ (para 15, African Trade Ministers’ Addis Declaration, Oct 2013).

2. Affirmations of DDA, to some extent less strong, but still Reaffirming DDA in Entirety

“the Doha mandate remains as formally agreed by Members in its entirety and neither the consensus Elements for Political Guidance in Part I, nor the non-exhaustive summary in Part II of this statement, change or reinterpret it.”

We take note of the progress that has been made towards carrying out the Doha Work Programme, including the decisions we have taken on the Bali Package during this Ministerial Conference. These decisions are an important stepping stone towards the completion of the Doha Round. We reaffirm our commitment to the development objectives set out in the Doha Declaration, as well as to all our subsequent decisions and declarations and the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO

(Bali Ministerial Declaration, Part III Post-Bali work, second paragraph)

3. Language that Does not Recommit to Doha in its Entirety, only carrying over some principles or parts of it – i.e. effectively we are entering a new ‘work programme’ or Round

We commit to implement all elements of the Bali package and to swiftly define a WTO work programme on the remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda to get negotiations back on track. (G20 Leaders’ Communiqué in 2014)

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/16/g20-leaders-communiqu

This does not mean recommitting to the DDA if there is no accompanying language reaffirming the Doha Declaration or the need to complete negotiations under the DDA.

We reaffirm the undertakings of the DDA

Dictionary meaning of Undertaking: A formal pledge or promise to do something

‘Undertakings of the DDA’ in the plural seems to mean the decisions or agreements that have been taken under the DDA negotiations thus far.

It would be different if we say that we reaffirm the DDA undertaking in its entirety. This would mean that the DDA as a pledge or promise as one package is reaffirmed.

We reaffirm the framework of the DDA

Dictionary meaning of Framework: a set of beliefs, ideas or rules that is used as the basis for making judgements, decisions.

S&D could be argued to be part of the framework of the DDA.

Also the fact that the negotiations of the DDA had agriculture, NAMA, Services, S&D as key pillars could also be argued as part of the ‘framework’ of the DDA. But this does not mean reaffirming the DDA in its entirety.

We reaffirm the architecture of the DDA

Dictionary meaning of Architecture: Design and structure

Similar to the ‘framework’, this wording does not seem to be wording that captures the DDA in its entirety.

Annex 1: Reaffirmations of the DDA in Past Ministerials

Examples of explicit reaffirmation of the Doha mandate in Ministerial Conference outcomes:

  1. In 2003: References in Cancun Ministerial Statement (WT/MIN(03)/20, 23 September 2003):
    • 3: “More work needs to be done in some key areas to enable us to proceed towards the conclusion of the negotiations in fulfilment of the commitments we took at Doha”.
    • 6: “Notwithstanding this setback, we reaffirm all our Doha Declarations and Decisions and recommit ourselves to working to implement them fully and faithfully”.
  2. In 2005: References in Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(05)/DEC, 22 December 2005):
    • 1. “We reaffirm the Declarations and Decisions we adopted at Doha, as well as the Decision adopted by the General Council on 1 August 2004, and our full commitment to give effect to them. We renew our resolve to complete the Doha Work Programme fully and to conclude the negotiations launched at Doha successfully in 2006”.
  3. In 2009: Chair’s summary of the seventh ministerial conference (WT/MIN(09)/18, 2 December 2009)
    • “…First, the Round. There was strong convergence on the importance of trade and the Doha Round to economic recovery and poverty alleviation in developing countries. The development dimension should remain central to the Round and particular attention should be paid to issues of importance to developing countries. Ministers reaffirmed the need to conclude the Round in 2010 and for a stock-taking exercise to take place in the first quarter of next year. …It was widely acknowledged that the importance of the WTO extends beyond the Round. It was also noted that finishing the Round - a stimulus package with limited fiscal cost - is vital in order to ensure that the WTO remains relevant…”.
  4. In 2011: references in the Chairman’s Concluding Statement, specifically the first part that based on consensus “Elements for Political Guidance”:
    • “the Doha mandate remains as formally agreed by Members in its entirety and neither the consensus Elements for Political Guidance in Part I, nor the non-exhaustive summary in Part II of this statement, change or reinterpret it.”
    • “Despite this situation, Ministers remain committed to work actively, in a transparent and inclusive manner, towards a successful multilateral conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda in accordance with its mandate”.
  5. In 2013: Bali Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(13)/DEC, 11 December 2013):
    • 1.2: “We also recall the Declarations and Decisions we adopted at Doha and at the Ministerial Conferences we have held since then and reaffirm our full commitment to give effect to them.”
    • 1.9: “we reaffirm our commitment to the Doha Development Agenda, as well as to the regular work of the WTO”

Paragraph 45 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration addresses “Organization and management of the work programme”.

It provides that: “45.  The negotiations to be pursued under the terms of this declaration shall be concluded not later than 1 January 2005. The Fifth Session of the Ministerial Conference will take stock of progress in the negotiations, provide any necessary political guidance, and take decisions as necessary. When the results of the negotiations in all areas have been established, a Special Session of the Ministerial Conference will be held to take decisions regarding the adoption and implementation of those results” (emphasis added).

Moreover, paragraph 48 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration provides that:Decisions on the outcomes of the negotiations shall be taken only by WTO members” (emphasis added).

Last modified onMonday, 30 November 2015 14:55

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