on 1 December, began negotiating in earnest various sections of the Seattle Ministerial
Declaration in working groups open to all delegations. They are expected to be engaged in
nearly continuous work until the close of the Conference on Friday, 3 December. Summaries
of todays meetings follow:
OF THE WHOLE
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky (US)
Barshefsky opened the meeting by expressing her regrets to Ministers and officials who
were harassed during the demonstration yesterday. She said the Government and the People
of the United States deplore the "irresponsible actions of a tiny minority."
explained the timetable of todays meeting and urged delegations not to spend their
time in the Working Groups going over the same ground they had covered in Geneva.
that delegations send senior officials with decision-making authority to these Working
Groups, including the authority to change positions from those that have been held in
Geneva. She said unless delegations were prepared to do this, it would be extremely
difficult to produce Ministerial Declaration.
that while she reserved the right to hold Green Room meetings with smaller numbers of
delegations, she much preferred a more inclusive approach in which all delegations could
participate. These Working Groups, she said, were the best way to do that.
assured Ministers that even if a Working Group may agree a text, no element of the
Ministerial Declaration is agreed, until all elements are agreed. Ministers, she said,
could reserve the right to return to Working Group texts. She said it was imperative that
we reach successful outcome at this Ministerial meeting and that it would be business as
usual for the next 2.5 days.
Mike Moore spoke to say he had cancelled his reception this evening to allow Ministers
more time to work
Minister George Yeo (Singapore)
discussed new paragraphs on agriculture for the draft ministerial declaration which would
launch the new negotiations in agriculture. The text dealt with:
objectives of the negotiations whether agricultural products should ultimately be
treated the same as industrial products.
for developing countries (to be discussed on 2 December)
reductions in subsidies and protection.
(how to deal with non-trade objectives such as environmental protection, food security,
etc) and other issues.
proposed timetable for the negotiations.
discussion broadly took two lines, although individual countries emphasized different
issues. One group favoured the ultimate goal of complete integration of agricultural trade
into the same rules as other products, the total elimination of export subsidies, only
providing support non-trade objectives through policies that do not distort trade, and
substantial increases in market access.
group said agriculture is different from other sectors and therefore they rejected the
ultimate goal of integrating the trade into the same disciplines as other products. They
said they could not accept eliminating export subsidies, and stressed the need to take
specific account of "multifunctionality".
afternoon, delegates met in smaller groups to try to resolve these differences. The group
was scheduled to reconvene the following morning.
GROUP ON IMPLEMENTATION AND RULES
10-12 am, 4-5 pm
International Trade Minister Pierre S. Pettigrew (Canada)
45 members spoke, with developing countries reiterating demands for Ministerial action on
implementation issues as the US and the EC indicate new flexibility.
developing countries expressed concern and called for action regarding 1) difficulty in
implementing certain WTO Agreements and asked for extension of deadlines in TRIPS, TRIMS,
Customs Valuation; and 2) imbalance in certain Agreements and called for changes in
certain provisions of the Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Textiles Agreements. They supported
Seattle action on certain issues and for the remaining ones to be reviewed after Seattle
and completed after one year.
United States said it is working with other Quad members for a meaningful market-access
package for LDCs, and welcomed the EU joining its initiative on capacity building for
LDCs. It indicated that it could be flexible regarding TRIMs, Customs Valuation,
Agriculture, SPS, rules of origin, and on making S&D provisions more operational.
European Communities said its initiative for duty-free treatment of LDC exports is done,
and that it has appealed to the US, Japan and Canada to join in. It believed this can be
done in Seattle. It said it will make a substantial contribution to the WTO technical
cooperation programme. On rules, it supports negotiations on Anti-Dumping, Subsidies, TBT,
State Trading, TRIMs, regional trade agreements, and environment-related issues. It has a
certain degree of flexibility regarding implementation issues, and confirmed a textiles
proposal referred to by Pakistan (increasing the growth rate of remaining quotas).
said abusive use of anti-dumping measures should be regarded as a disguised form of
protectionism that nullifies tariff reductions overnight. It said that improvement of the
AD Agreement is a lynchpin of the new Round, and that many developing countries support
said that the 71 ACP countries have been marginalized regarding certain WTO issues. It
called for turning S&D into hard commitments, the extension of transition periods for
TRIMS and Customs Valuation, and increase in funding and human resources for technical
cooperation. It asked that the waiver for preferential trade treatment given to ACP
countries must be extended to give time for them to be integrated into the global economy.
proposed negotiations to remove subsidies on fisheries. It was supported by a number of
delegations, including the US, Peru, Indonesia, Norway, Chile and Ecuador.
draft text on implementation was circulated by several delegations, which provides for 1)
immediate decisions: extension of deadlines for implementation of certain provisions of
the TRIPS, TRIMS, Customs Valuation Agreement and providing for greater participation of
developing countries in formulating international product standards; and 2) leaving other
implementation issues for consideration by the General Council after Seattle.
Chairperson said he will be consulting with delegations this evening and tomorrow, and
will draw up a new text. The Group may meet again tomorrow afternoon.
GROUP ON MARKET ACCESS
Wednesday 1 December 1999
Minister Mopho Malie (Lesotho)
portion of the draft declaration on market access (reductions in import duties, access to
services markets, etc) contains a number of unresolved issues, although the portion on
access to services markets is less controversial. They include:
and scope of the negotiations whether they should cover all non-agricultural
products or whether some could be excluded (agricultural products are negotiated under
objective of the negotiations (the current text does not say how much tariffs should be
measures affecting access to markets (anti-dumping measures, customs valuation, import
licensing, rules of origin, safeguard measures, subsidies, etc). Differences of opinion
exist on many of these issues.
negotiations should be organized.
address developing countries concerns one proposal is for exports from least
developed countries to be given "bound" zero tariffs in richer countries.
ministers met in smaller groups to try to resolve differences.
AGENDA AND OTHER ISSUES
1 December 1999 Afternoon
Minister Lockwood Smith (New Zealand)
discussed two issues: investment and competition policy. The Chairman asked whether
Members could agree to start negotiations on investment and/or competition as part of the
round of negotiations that will incorporate agriculture, services and other topics; if
not, could they agree to develop elements that might eventually be incorporated in
agreements on investment and competition and return to the question of whether or not to
undertake negotiations at the Fourth Ministerial Session?
number of delegations called for negotiations to be launched at this Ministerial
Conference. Many other delegations said the issue is not yet ripe, and that study and
analysis of these issues should continue in the Working Groups on investment and
competition, set up at the Singapore Ministerial Conference in December 1996.
Positions voiced today are very similar to those expressed in Geneva over this past year.
summing up, the Chairman said three points seemed to be clear from Members
was wide recognition that the issues of investment and competition are important.
of the recognised importance of these issues, Members need to move forward on these
forward movement must be credible and not merely an effort to save face.
Chairman urged delegations to try to find a bridge to their positions. He will carry out
further consultations before the Working Groups next meeting.
BRIEFING NOTE (2) - Summary of December 2