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WTO AND DOHA DEVELOPMENT AGENDA (DDA)

(1) KUWAIT AND THE WTO

  • Kuwait had become a contracting party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1963. It participated in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations as a GATT contracting party. At the end of the Uruguay Round, Kuwait accepted the Marrakesh Agreement, the Multilateral Trade Agreements, and submitted its Schedule of Concessions and Commitments on Goods and its Schedule of Specific Commitments on Services. It thus became an original member of the WTO from the beginning of 1995, under Article XI of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization.
  • Since becoming a Member of the WTO, Kuwait has actively participated in all WTO activities. It has taken part in different Ministerial Conferences of the WTO. Kuwait participates in WTO activities in collaboration with its GCC partners. Kuwait is also a member, and an active participant, of the Arab Group and the Informal Group of Developing Countries.
  • Kuwait has taken interest in and has been effectively participating in various WTO Councils and Committees, in particular the General Council, the Council for Trade in Goods, the Council for Trade in Services, the Council for TRIPS and the Committee on Trade and Development. It has also been participating in different Working Parties on accession to the WTO.
  • Kuwait is and has been a strong supporter of the WTO. It believes in the basic principles and rules of the multilateral trading system as enshrined in the rules and procedures of the WTO. The rule based system of the WTO has proved its utility and stood the test of time particularly in the trying period of the recent great recession when it prevented a wholesale slide into protectionism. Kuwait also believes that the WT0's rule based system is of particular benefit to the smaller developing countries. They need the protection of the rules more than bigger developed countries. Kuwait believes that the main role of the WTO is providing rules for the conduct of world trade and overseeing the effective implementation of these agreed rules.
  • Kuwait is an admirer and a supporter of the dispute settlement system of the WTO although it has so far not been a party to any dispute either as a complainant or as a defendant. Of course, the system needs some improvements. Voices are sometimes raised about the relevance of the WTO in the current circumstances and whether the WTO would survive the stalemate, or the unlikely collapse of the Doha Round negotiations.
  • Kuwait is of the strong view that these misgivings are wholly misplaced. The WTO has proved its utility; it is there to stay and no better substitute is available. Kuwait would work with other Members to support and strengthen the WTO.

(2) KUWAIT'S PARTICIPATION IN DOHA DEVELOPMENT AGENDA NEGOTIATIONS

  • The Doha Development Agenda was launched in a GCC Member State — Qatar, in November 2001 with great fanfare and with an even greater promise. Kuwait participated in the Doha Ministerial Conference which adopted the Doha Ministerial Declaration.
  • Kuwait has been participating in DDA negotiations right from the beginning, working in collaboration and close cooperation with its GCC partners and with other developing countries. The objective of Kuwait in these negotiations has been improved and predictable market access for agriculture, for industrial products and for services for all countries and especially for developing and least developed countries. An equally important objective of Kuwait was improvement and updating of trade rules and further streamlining of the dispute settlement system and its procedures.
  • Looking back, Kuwait thinks that perhaps the difficulty with the DDA negotiations emanates from the fact that the negotiating agenda was overloaded. There were too many subjects and a lot of time was consumed in dealing with these and some of the subjects had to be dropped after five or six years. That is a lesson that should not be forgotten.
  • Kuwait believes that it is important to successfully conclude the Doha Round with a balanced package of results. Kuwait also believes that all WTO Members should show flexibility and should be prepared to make essential compromises with a view to fulfilling the key objectives of the negotiations. Kuwait will continue working with other WTO Members to this end.