Ministerial Conference

Policy Brief 62, June 2019

Intellectual Property and Electronic Commerce: Proposals in the WTO and Policy Implications for Developing Countries

This policy brief explains the mandate of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on electronic commerce under the work program on e-commerce, which was adopted by the WTO Ministerial Conference in 1998 and periodically renewed by subsequent Ministerials. It describes what has taken place on intellectual property related issues pertaining to e-commerce in the WTO TRIPS (Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Council. It also summarizes various proposals and suggestions that have been advanced in the Council since the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015 as well as recent proposals that have been advanced in the General Council until December 2018, some of which contain specific intellectual property (IP) related issues. As part of the recently launched plurilateral negotiations on e-commerce, a forum that is likely to become more prominent for this discussion, proposals have been re-submitted in March 2019, as well as others which have been tabled in April and May 2019. Finally, this brief presents an explanation of how IP issues may also affect other elements of e-commerce and the digital economy. Such issues are not the subject of existing proposals in the WTO, but may feature in future discussions.

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Analytical Note, January 2017

The WTO’s Special and Differential Treatment Negotiations (Paragraph 44)

Paragraph 44 of the 2001 Doha Ministerial Declaration mandates the ‘strengthening’ of Special and Differential Treatment (S&D) provisions in the WTO Agreement, and making them ‘more precise, effective and operational’. This Note tracks the evolution of these negotiations from the start of the Doha Round in 2001 until the Nairobi Ministerial in December 2015. (more…)

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. (more…)

Analytical Note, May 2016

Assessing the WTO’s Nairobi Package (MC10)

This paper provides an overview of the Decisions that came out of the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC) in Nairobi taking into account the interests and concerns of developing countries.

The Nairobi package includes Decisions on (more…)

Analytical Note, May 2016

Discussions in the Working Group on the Relationship between Trade and Investment (2001-2003)

This Note reviews Members’ submissions in the Working Group on the Relationship between Trade and Investment (WGTI) between 2001 – 2003.

The Singapore Ministerial Declaration established the WGTI to examine the relationship between trade and investment. Subsequently, the Doha Ministerial Declaration tasked the WGTI to focus on the clarification of seven elements of a possible future multilateral investment agreement, as well as some other issues: (more…)

Analytical Note, December 2015

WTO’s MC10: The Call for ‘New Issues’ at the WTO and Implications for Developing Countries

Narratives concerning enhancing the participation of developing countries in ‘Global Value Chains’ (GVCs) and supporting micro, small and medium enterprises have featured prominently in the WTO
and other international organizations. These have intensified in the run up towards the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. These discourses on GVCs and MSMEs have often been linked to (more…)

Analytical Note, December 2015

WTO’s MC10: The Nairobi Ministerial Declaration

When launched in 2001, the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) had the objective of being a Development Round. However, substantive development concerns have often been sidelined in the course of the negotiations. Without the Doha mandate, developing countries have no guarantee that the important issues of disciplines on domestic supports, special safeguard in agriculture and cotton will feature in future negotiations on Agriculture. (more…)

Analytical Note, December 2015

WTO’s MC10: Agriculture Negotiations– Public Stockholding

Public stockholding programmes have over the past decades proven themselves to be very effective instruments for supporting domestic producers in agricultural production. Studies have shown that in
fact, countries that are still in the process of development, where markets are not well developed, need such public stockholding programmes to support their farmers.

Many developing countries do have these programmes. This non-exhaustive list (more…)

Analytical Note, December 2015

WTO’s MC10: Agriculture Negotiations – Special Safeguard in Agriculture for Developing Countries

The agricultural safeguard is important for developing countries. Most developed countries already have access to a special agricultural safeguard as a result of the Uruguay Round negotiations, and
some of them have actively utilised this Special Safeguard Provisions (SSG) through the past 20 years.

Developing countries require a similar instrument because of the many agricultural import surges taking place. (more…)

Analytical Note, December 2015

WTO’s MC10: Agriculture Negotiations – Export Competition

This note provides a brief on Export Competition and the four issues that it covers:

With respect to export subsidies, the EU, the Member with the largest export subsidy entitlements applies zero export subsidies under its Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020. Commitments to bind export subsidies at zero are therefore a step in the right direction but the extent of its value is limited. The Green Box remains undisciplined (more…)

Analytical Note, November 2013

WTO’s MC9: Summary of Issues

10 documents were distributed to WTO Members on 26 November 2013 at the last General Council meeting before the Bali Ministerial Conference (MC9).  These documents are being transmitted to Bali. (more…)


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