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Doha Development Agenda

At the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001 WTO member governments agreed to launch new negotiations. They also agreed to work on other issues, in particular the implementation of the present agreements. The entire package is called the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).

The negotiations take place in the Trade Negotiations Committee and its subsidiaries, which are usually, either regular councils and committees meeting in “special sessions”, or specially-created negotiating groups. Other work under the work program takes place in other WTO councils and committees.

The Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, in September 2003, was intended as a stock-taking meeting where members would agree on how to complete the rest of the negotiations. But the meeting was soured by discord on agricultural issues, including cotton, and ended in deadlock on the “Singapore issues” (trade and investment, trade and competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation). Real progress on the Singapore issues and agriculture was not evident until the early hours of 1 August 2004 with a set of decisions in the General Council (sometimes called the July 2004 package). Finally agreement was reached on 1 August 2004 to negotiate trade facilitation alone. The three other subjects were dropped from the Doha agenda.

The original 1 January 2005 deadline was missed.

The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong, China, 13–18 December 2005 could be considered as half success. After that, members unofficially aimed to finish the negotiations by the end of 2006.

Ministers and heads of delegations met in Geneva from 28 June to 1 July 2006 for intensive negotiations on template agreements, known as “modalities”, for trade in agriculture and industrial products. The negotiations were suspended at the end of July after an attempt by ministers from six key players to break the deadlock failed on 23 July. The deadline of the end of 2006 was missed as well.

“We are now writing the last chapter of this long, and sometimes tortuous, story"
Director-General Pascal Lamy, in his report to the WTO General Council on 7 February 2007, announced that “political conditions are now more favorable for the conclusion of the Round than they have been for a long time”. He added that “political leaders around the world clearly want us to get fully back to business, although we in turn need their continuing commitment”.

Situation as of today
The informal Ministerial Conference, which was held in July 2008 in Geneva, lasted nine days with no recess and nearly resulted in success, but collapsed in the end. In more than a year, at a meeting in New Delhi, ministers resolved to resume the talks. At present, the negotiations are making difficult headway in accordance with the Roadmap developed by the WTO Secretariat .

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