China’s signing ceremony, in turn, immediately followed ministers’
formal approval of the membership of Chinese Taipei.
Chinese membership agreement runs to 1,500 pages, and weighs 13
formalities took place towards the end of a day when ministers
continued the nitty-gritty task of striving for agreement on two draft
declarations. Discussions continued in the full meeting of heads of
delegations, and in consultations with the “Friends of the
Chair” assigned to work on specific subjects. (See
10 November summary)
the afternoon the chairman, Qatari Finance, Economy and Trade Minister
Youssef Hussain Kamal, reconvened the heads of delegation with the six
Friends of the Chair reporting on their consultations.
six said they had held consultations open to all delegations and had
also met with delegations individually and in small groups. None of
the six said that agreement on the area was at hand, but all said they
could report some progress. They then announced that they would hold
consultations open to all delegations this evening.
— Minister Pascal Couchepin of Switzerland said some
progress had been made on some subsidy questions but that others
remain difficult. On textiles and customs valuation, he said, some
differences remain to be resolved.
— Minister George Yeo of Singapore said the current text in
its present form represents “a house of cards” that could
collapse if one card moves only slightly. While a large number of
delegations said they could accept the text as it is, some developing
countries said they wanted to see the text reflect their views more.
Some countries continued to have problems with wording on export
subsidies and non-trade concerns.
— Minister Alec Erwin of South Africa reported that while
member governments could accept the text on regional trade agreements,
problems remain on the anti-dumping portion of the text.
— Minister Heraldo Muñoz Valenzuela of Chile reported that
some governments can accept the operational wording on the
environment, others said they could not go any further and some others
said it had to be strengthened.
issues — Minister Pierre Pettigrew of Canada reported that
some developing countries continue to resist the idea of negotiating
investment and competition. He said there were problems on the
question of opting-in or opting-out of negotiations. Some delegations
made some suggestions on how this may be addressed, he said. Moreover,
due to the different nature of the issues, solutions to the problems
of competition and investment may not be the same, he added
property (TRIPS)/Public health/Access to medicines — Minister Luis
Ernesto Derbez Bautista of Mexico reported that the key is to find a
solution to paragraph four, which deals with the overall scope of the
proposed declaration — whether it should cover public health as a
whole or focus on specific problems such as pandemics. He said it is
important to find a compromise between the two positions and that he
has asked a group of countries on both sides of the issue to draft
wording that they could agree on.
conference chairperson said he will call another heads of delegation
meeting for tomorrow morning at which the six would report on their
the heads of delegation discussed TRIPS and health or access to
medicines and other issues not covered by the six Friends of the
Chair. The debate on TRIPS and health largely repeated previous
positions although a few delegations tried to find a compromise on the
paragraph dealing with the scope of the proposed declaration.
the “other issues”, one group of developed countries
stressed the importance of labour standards. They also favoured the
WTO recognizing efforts undertaken on this subject in the
International Labour Organization through the text. Several developing
countries said that they could live with the existing text, but could
not accept any changes. Several others said they wanted to delete
references to the ILO. Some said they wanted all references to the
issue deleted because it had been dealt with at the SMC.
large number of developing countries said they wanted to see the WTO
establish working groups on the issues of trade, debt and finance, and
transfer of technology.
number of countries raised the question of extending to other products
the enhanced level of protection currently given to geographical
indications of wines and spirits. They said they would like to see
negotiations on this. Several other countries, however, said they were
not prepared to assume new obligations in this area.
were a number of delegations which spoke on the question of market
access for non-agricultural goods. Most said they could support it,
but there was disagreement among the members on whether the text
should refer to comprehensive cuts with no exclusions set in advance.