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Written Answers. - World Trade Organisation Negotiations.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 142. Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney  if she will report on the current status of the World Trade Organisation negotiations. [24613/02]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney): Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney The WTO declaration agreed at the fourth trade ministerial meeting in Doha, in November 2001, provides for a new round of multilateral trade liberalisation negotiations across a broad spectrum of trade related issues. The declaration, one of the key documents from the ministerial, outlines a wide-ranging work programme and is the blueprint for negotiations which are scheduled to conclude by 2005.

Negotiations have already commenced in earnest across a broad range of issues. A substantial WTO negotiating structure is now in place including, at its pinnacle, the trade negotiation committee, TNC, designed to drive the Doha development agenda. The role of the TNC is to supervise the progress of the negotiations across the full spectrum including, in relation to trade-related issues in the areas of agriculture, services, trade related intellectual property rights, dispute settlement and trade and development. The European Communities and its member states are contributing substantially to the delivery of key outputs under the Doha work programme.

Irish trade negotiators are fully engaged with and participate in these discussions at both EU and WTO fora. At this stage of the negotiations, preparations are being made for the conclusion of an initial end of year 2002 package of items including, access to medicines, implementation issues and special and differential treatment. Many of these issues are of particular interest to developing countries. In the new year, preparations will commence for the next trade ministerial in Mexico, in September 2003. This will, in effect, be a mid-term ministerial which will take stock of progress and give an overview of what has been accomplished at that stage in areas where negotiations have been launched.

The launch of a comprehensive trade round in Doha last year was the best way to address the challenges resulting from significant and far-reaching economic and technological changes, to promote equitable growth and development and [1020] to respond in a balanced manner to the interests of all WTO members, in particular the developing countries. Issues of importance to Ireland under the current round are the conclusion of a successful round of negotiations in the areas of agriculture, services, market access and strengthening the influence and outcomes for developing countries in the multilateral trading environment.

Overall, Ireland along with our EU partners are strongly of the view that maintaining a strong World Trade Organisation is of fundamental importance to meet the economic and trade challenges ahead. I am pleased with the progress being made to date across the wide-ranging and comprehensive work programme under the Doha development agenda.

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