Supachai Panitchpakdi’s speeches
of the Doha Development Agenda
Statement by Director-General
like first of all to pay tribute to you, Mr. Chairman, for the Herculean
task that you have performed not just in the last couple of months but
throughout your Chairmanship of the General Council this year. We could not
have asked more from a Chairman and no one could have done more. The report
you have just given, Mr. Chairman, represents our joint view and so there is
not much I need to add.
Let me recall, first of all, as an interesting footnote, that 15 December
2003 is the tenth anniversary of the TNC meeting which effectively concluded
the Uruguay Round. Our collective aim for today, as instructed by Ministers
at Cancún, was to arrive at a point where the negotiations can resume full
momentum. We are not yet at this point but we should not be disheartened.
Overall, I would still say that in the relatively short period of two years
since the Round was launched in November 2001, much good work has been
accomplished. Of course, differences remain on key points of substance, but
considerable progress has been made in all areas and we have come a long way
since Doha. We do not, however, need to look all the way back to Doha to see
progress. Even if we take Cancún as our more recent point of departure,
thanks to the large amount of work that has been done, I believe we now have
a much clearer grasp of the remaining differences and of the solutions
needed to bridge them.
Since the last Heads of Delegation meeting on 9 December, I have continued
with my intensive programme of contacts with Ministers in capitals and
elsewhere. As you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, my efforts in this respect has
been designed to complement your own efforts in Geneva.
I come away from these contacts with the deep impression that there
continues to be a strong willingness and determination to move the Doha
Development Agenda forward.
In the last couple of months I have met with Ministers in Asia, Africa,
Central America, the Caribbean and South America. I have also seen many
other Ministers as they pass through Geneva and I have also spoken to quite
a number by telephone. As I have reported previously, every Minister I have
spoken to wants to see progress. They have also expressed a recognition of
the need for flexibility in order to achieve this progress. The message that
I have received from Ministers has been clear, consistent and encouraging.
They are all committed to the multilateral trading system. They do not want
the DDA to be sidelined or neglected and are willing to resume the
negotiations at the earliest opportunity on the basis of the Derbez text.
If we are to inject renewed vitality into our negotiations here in Geneva, I
believe it is vitally important that we keep the genuine willingness and
desire of Ministers to move the DDA forward firmly in mind. Let me briefly
recall, in this regard, some elements of what they have said.
In Bangkok, APEC Ministers called on all WTO Members to quickly re-energise
the negotiations by building on Chairman Derbez's text of 13 September,
recognizing that flexibility and political will from all are urgently
needed. In Cairo, a gathering of Ministers of a dozen African countries
expressed their determination and desire that our negotiations regain
momentum at the earliest possible time. I was particularly impressed in
Cairo that Ministers were prepared to show flexibility by setting aside
specific problems with the Derbez text and to use it as a general starting
point for our ongoing work.
In Honduras, Trade Ministers from Central America and Mexico expressed a
strong and unanimous desire for an early resumption of the negotiations on
the basis of the Derbez text. Directly following the meeting in Honduras,
Caribbean Trade Ministers met in Guyana and showed their commitment to
reviving the negotiations and their willingness to show flexibility. In
their deliberations, these Ministers also agreed that the Derbez text could
be the basis for restarting the negotiations. They expressed as well their
willingness to consider different options in areas where they have
I have just come back from the meeting between the G-20 and the EU in
Brasilia. Others would have their comments to make but I have to say that my
personal impressions are that the meeting was very positive. I came away
with a clear impression of genuine engagement on key issues. There was frank
and constructive discussions, in particular, in the area of agriculture. I
am deeply encouraged that Ministers are in negotiating mode, going into
detailed discussion of the various aspects of the agriculture package. In
order to achieve real and substantive progress, it is important that we,
here in Geneva, complement their efforts.
Let me also report that I have just received a letter from the Commonwealth
Secretary-General conveying the Aso Rock Statement on Multilateral Trade
issued by the recent Summit of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth in
Abuja, Nigeria. In its statement, Commonwealth Heads of Government called
for an immediate re-engagement by all concerned and urged all to show
flexibility and the political courage necessary to deliver a balanced Round.
I find it particularly encouraging that such a diverse group of countries at
all levels of development and of various sizes were able to agree on such a
clear and strong statement of support.
To conclude, our engagement over the last couple of months has shown full
support and commitment to the multilateral process and a shared will to get
back on track. This should not be underestimated. As I have said on previous
occasions, I am deeply encouraged by the strong sense of continuing personal
involvement which Ministers evidently feel and the growing political support
for putting the Round firmly back on track.
I fully share the assessment of the Chairman that the time has come to
reactivate the work in the negotiating groups and other bodies. We will also
no doubt need to give further consideration to objectives and possible
benchmarks for the work in 2004. However, in order to move ahead and to
seize the window of opportunity that lies in front of us we will need
delegations to translate the political will and support of Ministers into
practical flexibilities. Reactivating the negotiating groups and other
bodies will not automatically translate into further progress, unless
delegations engage constructively and show a genuine willingness to
negotiate. Our collective task is indeed to find that elusive link between
political will and concrete progress. I believe we are up to the challenge
and I assure you of my full commitment, as Director-General and also in my
capacity as TNC Chair, to do all that is necessary to work with you to find
the needed compromises.