The 6th WTO ministerial in Hong Kong will be held from 13 to 18 December 2005. An ambitious Doha Round is in the interest of most developing countries. There is however a risk that the Hong Kong ministerial will end in either acrimony, much as the Cancún ministerial did in 2003, or stalemate, given the apparent lack of consensus on issues considered to be critical. These include:
- How can the WTO incorporate SDT for developing countries in a rule-based system designed to be non-discriminatory?
- Will the round address the mandate to make SDT more precise, effective and operational, despite problems in finding consensus on the 88 proposals made?
- How can the issue of SDT be linked to technical assistance, support for reducing supply-side constraints and preference erosion (Aid for Trade)?
- What types of gains can developing countries expect from the three pillars of agricultural trade liberalisation, including reductions in tariffs, domestic support and export subsidies?
- Will the deadlock between the negotiating positions of the EU, US, G20 and other groups be resolved prior to the ministerial?
- There are now around 60 countries with GATS offers, but very few African countries have fully engaged in these negotiations. What benefits can GATS bring to developing countries? And how can they best achieve this?
- What progress can be made on issues such as Mode 4 (temporary movement service providers) during Hong Kong?
- What type of effects do we expect from both EPAs between the EU and ACP regions and WTO liberalisation on developing countries?
- How does the expansion of regional and bilateral trade agreements affect the developing countries ability to engage in multilateral agreements?