Doha, Qatar - The members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) early this morning took a decisive step towards promoting global economic growth, recovery, and development by reaching agreement on an agenda to negotiate further trade liberalization. Working from a single draft text hammered out over months of discussions among member countries, a final consensus was reached on many diverse issues, ranging from agriculture to services and environment.
To summarize, WTO Trade Ministers at their 4th Ministerial Meeting, approved
(1) A Declaration launching new global trade negotiations and a work program (10 pages);
- A Declaration on Intellectual Property Protection (TRIPS) and access to medicines and Public Health (1 ½ pages); and
- A Decision on Implementation-Related Issues and Concerns raised by Developing Countries (8 pages).
The U.S. delegation was led by United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, who was joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman in Doha and Commerce Secretary Don Evans in Washington.
In a statement in Doha, Ambassador Zoellick said:
"This is an important moment because we've brought together countries from all over the globe with a very strong statement on trade and growth and development. The time that it took us to complete these talks is a reminder that opening markets is never easy. From the start President Bush made it very clear that he wanted Secretary Veneman and Secretary Evans and I to make every effort to try to regain the momentum for America for free trade. And we now are delighted that we've overcome the stain of Seattle.
"We've reached an agreement that affirms the commitment of 142 WTO members to work cooperatively to reduce the world's trade barriers. This signal of forward progress on trade gives an endorsement and very timely boost to the multilateral trading system. This is only a beginning of course, and over the next few years we will certainly face more tests as we engage in negotiations. But I'm optimistic that what we've achieved in Doha lays the ground work for trade liberalization agenda that will be a starting point for greater development, growth, opportunity and openness around the world. Particularly in the aftermath of September 11 it is also an excellent political signal that 142 diverse nations can come together to agree on a constructive agenda for the world's public.
"Launching the negotiations with this declaration is a landmark achievement for U.S. agriculture. Our team really delivered for America's farmers and ranchers. We've settled on a program that lays out ambitious objectives for future negotiations on the liberalization of the agriculture market. These objectives represent a cornerstone of our market access priorities for trade and they will create a framework that will help the United States and others to advance a fundamental agricultural reform agenda.
"Our work here can mark a new era in economic cooperation between developing and developed nations. On a range of issues, such as agricultural liberalization and reduction of tariffs on non-agricultural goods, we've shown how our interests can converge with the developing world. I believe that we in the United States have an enhanced appreciation for the interests of developing nations in trade. And in turn many of the developing nations with which we cooperated have demonstrated their recognition of our shared interests.
"The adoption of the landmark political declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and public health is a good example of developed and developing nations advancing common goals by working through issues together. I believe this declaration highlights that we have provisions in the TRIPS agreement that provide members with the flexibility to address public health emergencies, like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and malaria. And it also recognizes the importance of intellectual property protection for the development of new lifesaving medicines.
"We were pleased with the outcome of this process - particularly our work with Brazil and a number of African nations. Through the declaration more than 140 members of the WTO members have expressed their strong support for the TRIPS Agreement and we believe this declaration affirms that TRIPS and the global trading system can help countries address pressing public health problems.
"In the area of rules, the text provides for a two-phase process of negotiations to clarify and improve the disciplines under the Agreements on Anti-dumping and Countervailing Measures, and on trade distorting practices that give rise to dumping and countervailing duties. The text notes that the negotiations should preserve the effectiveness of the Agreements and the instruments that we apply, thus recognizing that these instruments are legitimate means to counter unfair trade practices and should not be undermined.
"In services, the declaration sets the stage for the commencement of negotiations on new liberalization commitments, in sectors including telecommunications, financial services, energy, audio visual, and express delivery. These negotiations will help promote America's long-term economic growth, as the service sector now constitutes 62 percent of our economy.
"On environment, we have number of excellent results. We have agreed to negotiate disciplines on fisheries subsidies as the World Wildlife Fund and a number of NGO's urged us to do. We have, for the first time, an agreement that calls for negotiations on the relationship between the WTO rules and the specific trade-related obligations of members of certain multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). We ensured, through multiple safeguards, that others will not be able to use the MEAs as tools to restrict U.S. trade. And we will negotiate to remove the barriers to environmental goods and services, a true win-win process.
Combined with other commitments in the declaration, including support for national environmental reviews, we will be simultaneously encouraging trade liberalization and environmental protection through the recognition that the two are mutually reinforcing. We also are taking important steps to improve the transparency of the WTO.
"This week's accession of the People's Republic of China and Taiwan to the WTO represent a very historic achievement. It brings China into the rules-based trading system and will open its market to US goods and services. For Taiwan the accession is a recognition of the great strides made by its people over the last two decades as they have been able to both establish a thriving democracy and transform their market from a developing economy to a trade and economic powerhouse that has joined the WTO as a developed economy."