I am very pleased to be here in Washington to speak to members of
these two important organizations.
The Canadian American Business Council is widely recognized as the
leading voice of the Canadian-American business community. Your
support for freer trade is highly appreciated on both sides of the
border. The Council for Services Industries’ work to open
opportunities for services exports has benefited companies and
employees in the US and around the world since the Council was formed
back in 1982 - in the dark days before your work helped ensure
services trade was liberalized and governed by global rules.
I have been asked to offer my perspective on the current round of
global trade negotiations, which resemble a complex, multi-dimensional
chess game, played by trade ministers and negotiators from across the
As Chair of the WTO’s General Council, a committee of 144
Ambassadors, I know some pundits believe the old adage that “A
committee is a cul-de-sac into which ideas are lured and then quietly
But I remain convinced that our effort to build on the past eight
trade rounds — by further liberalizing multilateral trade, by opening
up markets, by breaking down protectionist barriers around the world,
and by legislating new global trade rules to keep up to economic and
technological changes — will, in the end, succeed.
That is why I am confident WTO Members will prove the great
Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan was right, when he once said “there are no more great men; there are only great
Seriously, I believe our aspirations can be achieved -- the stakes
are high, but the potential benefits for all are simply too great to
The US, Canada and the WTO
As a Canadian, I know how indispensable trade is to my nation’s
economic life. More than 45% of everything Canadians produce is
exported, and exports support one in three jobs nationally. Thanks
particularly to NAFTA, Canada’s trading relationship with the US is
the largest in the world. More than 1.2 billion US dollars in trade
crosses the Canada/US border every single day. Trade outside North
America — including with the EU, Japan and emerging markets in the
developing world — is also crucial to Canada’s economic health.
Of course, like Canada, the US has much to gain from trade and the
global economy. After all, the US is already the world’s largest
trader, with significant and diversified economic interests across all
regions of the world.
For both Canada and the United States, our best guarantee for
access and fair play in the global marketplace is through clear and
predictable international rules. It is precisely the WTO that brings
the family of nations together to negotiate and implement those rules,
as well as to arbitrate independently when trade disputes between
But the WTO does more than that. Canada’s destiny, and that of
the US, is inextricably linked to the destiny of the rest of the
world, for better or for worse. No one in our two countries will enjoy
prosperity for long if the rest of the world is not stable and
In this regard, I strongly believe that liberalizing trade
liberalizes opportunities. Freer trade effectively liberalizes people,
allowing them to harness their creative energies, which in turn
strengthens the liberty, stability and prosperity of our international
In this spirit, let me offer some thoughts on what the prospects
are for the WTO trade negotiations, and why it is so crucial that the
US, Canada and other leading trading nations work to make these global
trade talks a success.
Doha and the US
The WTO Ministerial meeting in Doha, Qatar just over a year ago was
a pivotal turning point. Trade ministers from 142 countries pushed
aside the legacy of Seattle, overcame the horrific shock of September
11, and launched an ambitious new round of global trade negotiations.
Ambassador Zoellick played a crucial role and helped reclaim for
the US the mantle of global trade leadership that was tarnished in
Seattle. If the Doha Ministerial had been a movie, Zoellick would have
been the leading man! He also capitalized on his close relationship
with European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, and together with
Canadian Trade Ministers Pierre Pettigrew and colleagues from around
the world, helped forge an international consensus.
Doha will be remembered for at least three major accomplishments.
The Negotiating Agenda
First, it approved a broad negotiating agenda including:
- the liberalization of goods and services trade;
- significant agricultural reform;
- clearer rules on anti-dumping, subsidies & countervailing
- some intellectual property and trade and environment issues;
- reform of the dispute settlement system.
Doha also paved the way for possible future negotiations on global
rules for such areas as investment and competition policy.
The breadth and depth of our negotiating mandate means the Doha
round holds the prospect of substantial economic benefits for all WTO
Take agriculture, for example. Trade ministers made history when
they agreed to the eventual phasing out of agricultural export
The total support provided to agriculture in wealthy OECD countries
is close to 1 billion US dollars every day. That figure is about
two-thirds of Africa’s total GDP, and more than four times the
annual development assistance that goes to all the world’s poor
However we measure the numbers, global agricultural subsidies have
reached absurd and unsustainable proportions. It is high time for
trade distorting subsidies to go.
The Doha mandate, therefore, represents tremendous prospects for
helping farmers around the world. It should allow them to compete on a
level playing field with other farmers, rather than competing with
certain national treasuries. After all, farmers should farm the land — and not the mailbox!
The second notable accomplishment at Doha was the decision –
after 15 years of negotiations – to accept China as a member of the
This was a momentous event. China’s accession means that more
than 97% of world trade is now governed by the WTO system, making the
WTO a more universal organization, with unrivalled potential for
stimulating global economic growth.
Moreover, China is now bound by WTO rules. This, together with
market openings and falling tariffs, opens up huge potential for
exports to this vast market.
Doha Development Agenda
Thirdly, the WTO chose to bridge the development divide, the
significant global gap between rich and poor.
Development Agenda, as we've called this round,
will contribute to real economic growth and the reduction of poverty.
That is what any round must do. It should appeal to struggling peoples
who desperately crave a better life. Indeed, trade is not an end in
itself, but a means to raising the living standards of people around
Accordingly, the Doha mandate addresses developing country concerns
about access for their main exports to markets of the North, including
agriculture, and textiles and clothing.
The WTO membership also made the commitment to provide
significantly more and better technical assistance for developing and
least developed countries. The purpose is to ensure these countries
can effectively negotiate, implement and subsequently benefit, from
Start of the journey
It is clear that Doha was just the beginning of the journey. We are
now a year down the road, and we have much work to do and very little
time to do it. Our deadline is Jan. 1, 2005. In WTO real-time, that is
very ambitious. The last round of global trade negotiations took
almost 8 years to complete. The issues this time are just as
contentious, and many more players are determined to have a say in the
So far, we have made some good progress:
- Members have established a lean and efficient negotiating
structure and work plan, and all the negotiating groups are
working hard and moving forward;
- Donors raised 30 million Swiss Francs, double the target, for
contributions to the “Global Trust Fund” set up to
finance technical assistance. Using those funds, and working with
other international institutions and donor countries, the WTO has
delivered an ambitious program of technical assistance for
developing countries in all regions of the world.
- For the very first time, WTO Ambassadors met at an informal
retreat and discussed systemic challenges that Members and the WTO
itself are facing;
- Ministers have remained engaged, including at an informal
ministerial meeting in Sydney, Australia late last year. Another
informal ministerial will take place next month in Tokyo.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that although we have started better and faster
than the GATT did in the Uruguay Round, our tight timeline means we
will need to pick up the pace of negotiations.
The Challenges Ahead
As we work our way toward Cancun and beyond, we will need to
confront and overcome a number of challenges:
The first challenge, and greatest enemy, is time.
- Members will need unwavering determination to meet the deadlines
Ministers have set for us. And as I just mentioned, we will need
to intensify our work.
- The next formal Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, is less
than 8 months away. And its success will be key in providing the
momentum we will need to meet our final deadline in 2005.
Secondly, we must maintain the trust and enthusiasm of
the developing world.
- Developing countries constitute more than three quarters of the
WTO Membership, and for them the Doha Declaration represented a
- We must address their need for improved market access — especially for agriculture, which is a powerful development issue
— as well as deliver on the promises for greater technical and
- Many of you know also that, after more than a year of progress,
the WTO ended 2002 on a low note.
- We missed two key deadlines: one on providing special and
differential treatment for developing countries, and the other on
improving access to medicines by providing new flexibility in the
international patent rules under the TRIPS Agreement.
- Our shortcomings on TRIPS and health projected a particularly
poor image globally. The call for world action to combat the
devastating impact of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other
epidemics in Africa is one of the great humanitarian challenges of
- The WTO has only a modest role to play, but we need a solution
that provides nations like those in Africa with the flexibility
they need to address their public health crises, while maintaining
the intellectual property rights required to foster the
development of new medicines.
- Forging a multilateral agreement on this is an absolute priority
-- and the outcome will have real ramifications for the
institution and the rest of our negotiations.
Third, we cannot backload issues into Cancun
- We need to find the will and the way to resolve the balance of
issues along the way, and honour the deadlines between now and the
Cancun Ministerial Meeting.
- If we fail to do so, the culmination and weight of unfulfilled
aspirations and failed timelines will pose a troublesome task for
- Returning to the “Seattle model”, of trying to solve our
problems by throwing them all into the Ministerial pot, runs a
serious risk of repeating the bad old days.
Fourth, the WTO needs continued leadership from, and
cooperation between, the US and EU.
- If the US-EU partnership was instrumental in launching Doha, then
this duet will be central to successfully closing the show. These
two delegations have tremendous muscle at the WTO. While they can’t
dictate the outcome, without them, there is no outcome.
- The US Administration will have to use all of its clout — including Trade Promotion Authority and the Republican majority in
Congress — to deliver on sensitive issues of major interest to
other participants, like reform of anti-dumping rules.
- Equally, the EU will have to make progress on reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy – for without substantive progress on
agriculture, the Doha Round will fail.
- Finally, it is vital that the US and EU continue to work together
and prevent any of their difficult disagreements from spilling over
to the negotiations.
Fifth, we need to ensure that regional and bilateral
trade agreements complement the WTO.
- There are already some 250 regional trade agreements in force
around the world. Since Doha, we’ve seen a proliferation of new
bilateral and regional trade negotiations launched in every region
of the world. Twenty different sets of talks have been set in
motion since last summer alone.
- Granted, regional trade agreements deepen, strengthen, and
promote the values of trade liberalization. But WTO Members must
be careful not to stretch their negotiating resources and
political energies too thinly. We cannot let regional prospects,
as positive as they may be, distract us from much greater global
The final challenge is to build greater public support
for the WTO.
- Political leaders around the world cannot make the tough choices
required if they and the public only hear from the WTO’s
critics. Additional voices are needed — from the private sector
- At the same time, the WTO must do more to engage citizens, so
that they better understand the role and value of a strong
multilateral trading organization.
Why the WTO?
Our economic prosperity depends on a rules-based global system:
- a system that seeks to eliminate barriers to trade;
- a system that is transparent and fair to all;
- a system that can arbitrate disputes according to who is right
and not who has the might;
- and a system that can adapt in an era of unprecedented global
I ask our harshest critics to try and imagine a world without an
institution like the WTO to pursue these goals. In an increasingly
interdependent global economy, think of the uncertainty that would
reign if we lacked the rule of law in global trade. Think of the
imbalance and injustice if the weak had no recourse against the
unilateral decisions of the strong. It certainly would not be the
kinder, gentler world we seek.
In closing, we should view these negotiations from a broad, humane
The World Bank has estimated that abolishing all trade barriers
could boost global income by almost three trillion US dollars, and
lift some 320 million people out of poverty.
Now that’s just an estimate. I won’t stand here and tell you
that the Doha round will abolish all trade barriers. But
such a striking figure serves as a powerful reminder of the economic
and human potential that awaits us, and it should inspire the
political will and leadership required to prevail.
Completing the negotiations will not be a simple task. The issues
will demand hard work, commitment and compromise. They will also
demand hope. Hope, for a better world and a more just society.
In that context, let us be encouraged by the words of Martin Luther
King who said many years ago: “Everything that is done in the
world, is done by hope.”