Dáil Éireann - Volume 589 - 07 October, 2004

Written Answers. - World Trade Negotiations.

  53. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on whether the Doha development round of trade negotiations will be successful following the Eleventh UN Conference on Trade and Development in Sao Paolo, Brazil; Ireland’s and the EU’s priorities for these negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18840/04]

  61. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on the outcome of the summer nego[1626] tiations on the Doha trade development round and on the main implications for agriculture and other industry here. [23593/04]

  Mr. M. Ahern: I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 61 together.

The Doha development trade round was usefully discussed at the Eleventh UN Conference in Sao Paulo in June 2004. In addition, the Government is particularly pleased with the outcome of the end July 2004 World Trade Organisation General Council meeting which agreed a framework to further progress the Doha development agenda. The framework agreement adopted by WTO members sets the parameters for the next stages of negotiation of the Doha development agenda.

Over coming months and next year, the WTO members will develop the agreed framework into concrete, detailed and specific commitments under each of the key areas of interest, including in agriculture, non-agricultural products and services. In the case of agriculture, the framework will include negotiations aimed at a substantial cut in trade-distorting supports, the elimination of trade distorting export competition practices and a significant opening of agricultural markets. In the case of industry, a set of precise guidelines to cut tariffs has been adopted. The framework pays close attention to the needs and concerns of developing country members of the WTO.

These negotiations will take place with a view to completing the round as soon as possible. When the Doha round was launched in November 2001, negotiations were scheduled to conclude by 1 January 2005. This is not now going to happen. Alongside the adoption of the framework agreement, the WTO General Council, at end July, agreed that the next WTO ministerial meeting will take place in Hong Kong in December 2005.

As a small open economy, particularly reliant on exports for economic growth and development, Ireland supports a strengthening of the WTO and of the multilateral trading system and an ambitious approach to the elimination of remaining barriers to trade in goods and services. Issues of importance to Ireland under the current round are the conclusion of agreements to further liberalise trade in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing and services, and measures to assist developing countries, and in particular least developed countries, better integrate into the global trading system.