Analytical Note, May 2016

Key Substantive and Process Issues Arising from the WTO’s Nairobi Ministerial Conference (MC10)

Despite concerted attempts by major trading partners to bury the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda (DDA) in Nairobi, they were unsuccessful. Part I of this paper provides a legal reading of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration (NMD) as it pertains to the DDA, and also discusses other legal questions regarding the conclusion of the DDA.

Part II looks at the area of ‘Other Issues’ or new issues currently outside the Doha Development Agenda which some Members are keen to commence discussions and  negotiations on and provides a legal reading of the NMD in relation to these ‘other issues’.

Part III of this paper focuses on process and internal transparency issues during the Nairobi Ministerial Conference, drawing largely from the statements of WTO negotiators after the Ministerial.

On the DDA: The paper concludes that in as far as there is no decision by the General Council or Ministerial Conference to conclude the DDA, the DDA mandates and Decisions continue. The majority of developing countries have clearly signalled their wish to continue the DDA negotiations. This is in line with the acknowledgement by Ministers of the ‘strong legal structure of this Organisation’ (NMD, para 30).

On ‘Other Issues’: There is no agreement in the NMD that there will be the commencement of discussions on ‘other issues’. The majority of developing countries are the ‘others (who) do not’ wish to identify and discuss other issues for negotiations. On the three Singapore issues which include investment, there is no possibility for discussion or work within the WTO during the Doha Round unless there is a Decision taken by the Membership that overrides paragraph 1g of the 2004 July Framework General Council Decision.

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