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Doha Development Round

The Doha Development Round is the current trade-negotiation round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which commenced in November 2001. Its objective is to lower trade barriers around the world, which allows countries to increase trade globally. As of 2008, talks have stalled over a divide on major issues, such as agriculture, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies.[1] The most significant differences are between developed nations led by the European Union (EU), the United States (USA) and Japan and the major developing countries led and represented mainly by India, Brazil, China and South Africa. There is also considerable contention against and between the EU and the U.S. over their maintenance of agricultural subsidiesseen to operate effectively as trade barriers.[2] The Doha Round began with a ministerial-level meeting in Doha, Qatar in 2001. Subsequent ministerial meetings took place in Cancn, Mexico (2003), and Hong Kong (2005). Related negotiations took place in Geneva, Switzerland (2004, 2006, 2008); Paris, France (2005); and Potsdam, Germany (2007). The most recent round of negotiations, July 23-29 2008, broke down after failing to reach a compromise on agricultural import rules.[3] Major negotiations are not expected to resume until 2009.[4

Doha Round talks are overseen by the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), whose chair is WTOs director-general, which is currently Pascal Lamy. The negotiations are being held in five working groups and in other, existing bodies in the WTO. Selected topics under negotiation are discussed below in five groups: market access, development issues, WTO rules, trade facilitation, and other issues.[1]

Geneva, 2008
On July 21, 2008, negotiations started again at the WTO's HQ in Geneva on the Doha round but stalled after nine days of negotiations over the refusal to compromise over the special safeguard mechanism.

Collapse of negotiations
The negotiations collapsed on July 29 over issues of agricultural trade between the United States, India, and China.[25] In particular, there was insoluble disagreement between India and the United States over special safeguard mechanism (SSM), a measure designed to protect poor farmers by allowing countries to impose a special tariff on certain agricultural goods in the event of an import surge or price fall.[26]

Several countries blamed each other for the breakdown of the negotiations. [28] The United States and some European Union members blamed India for the failure of the talks. [29] India claimed that its position was supported by over 100 countries.[30] Brazil, one of the founding members of the G-20, broke away from the position held by India. [31] The EU's Peter Mandelson said that India and China should not be blamed for the failure of the Doha round.[32] In his view, the agriculture talks had been harmed by the five-year program of agricultural subsidies recently passed by the US Congress, which he said was "one of the most reactionary farm bills in the history of the US".[25]

Agriculture has become the linchpin of the agenda for both developing and developed countries. Three other issues have been important. The first, now resolved, pertained to compulsory licensing of medicines and patent protection. A second deals with a review of provisions giving special and differential treatment to developing countries; a third addresses problems that developing countries are having in implementing current trade obligations.[1]

The United States is being asked by the European Union (EU) and the developing countries, led by Brazil and India, to make a more generous offer for reducing tradedistorting domestic support for agriculture. The United States is insisting that the EU and the developing countries agree to make more substantial reductions in tariffs and to limit the number of import-sensitive and special products that would be exempt from cuts, while India has insisted on a large number of special products that would not be exposed to wider market opening.[2]

Access to patented medicines

A major topic at the Doha Ministerial regarded the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The issue involves the balance of interests between the pharmaceutical companies in developed countries that held patents on medicines and the public health needs in developing countries. Before the Doha meeting, the United States claimed that the current language in TRIPS was flexible enough to address health emergencies, but other countries insisted on new language.[1] On August 30, 2003, WTO members reached agreement on the TRIPS and medicines issue. Voting in the General Council, member governments approved a decision that offered an interim waiver under the TRIPS Agreement allowing a member country to export pharmaceutical products made under compulsory licenses to least-developed and certain other members.[1]

[edit] Special and differential treatment

In the Doha Ministerial Declaration, the trade ministers reaffirmed special and differential (S&D) treatment for developing countries and agreed that all S&D treatment

provisions reviewed with a view to strengthening them and making them more precise, effective and operational.[1][35]