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Australia adopts Warwick Commission recommendations

Recommendations made by the first Warwick Commission on the future of the trade system have been incorporated in the biggest review of Australian trade policy in almost twenty years.

The Hon Simon Crean MP, Australian Minister for Trade, recently announced the new review which paid special attention to the Commission report and directly refers to recommendations made by the Commission in relation to regional trading arrangements and WTO reform.

Acknowledgement of the Commission recommendations is made explicit in the document which contains more than 70 recommendations on trade and investment policy and export promotion programs for consideration by the Government.

It states: “The Review notes the debate on WTO reform that has followed the publication of the report of the Warwick Commission”.

“The Review considers that a number of the Warwick Commission’s recommendations have merit and that the report makes a valuable contribution to the international debate on the future directions of the WTO”.

The review is particularly supportive of the Commission’s proposal that the WTO adopt a critical mass approach to agreements: “The suggestion has appeal as a way of moving beyond the hurdles that have arisen from the varying interests, capacities and priorities that have stalled progress in the Doha Round”

In addition, the review supports the Commission’s recommendation that the WTO’s temporary Transparency Mechanism for Regional Trade Agreements be made permanent.

The Australian review comes shortly after the collapse of the Doha round of negotiations which ended in July this year when countries failed to agree on import rules and tariff thresholds.

The Warwick Commission launched their report at the World Trade Organization in Geneva in December 2007. Since then, Commissioners have travelled to North America, South East Asia, Australasia and Europe discussing their recommendations with policy makers and trade experts, hoping to impact the future of the multilateral trading system.