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> Supachai Panitchpakdi’s speeches
Statement by the Director-General
Let me begin by speaking, I am sure, for everyone Mr Chairman in
paying tribute to the heroic efforts you have been making to follow up on
the Cancun Ministerial Statement. You continue to show tremendous dedication
and energy in pursuit of the objective of taking the action necessary to
enable us to move towards a successful and timely conclusion of the
negotiations. Nobody could be doing more.
We have discussed matters between ourselves and the analysis of the current
situation which you have just given is shared. I give my full support to the
proposed course of action for the General Council on 15 December, in
particular the three point approach — a substantive review of progress;
identification of key issues; and a sense of the way ahead. We should also,
as you have said, foresee the reactivation of the negotiating groups,
bearing in mind that the “horizontal” element of our operations will of
course continue to be provided by the General Council and the Trade
Negotiations Committee. We should be working on the DDA across the board
next year through all the relevant bodies.
Let me add a few observations on recent developments and on the future from
my own perspective. As you know, and as I foreshadowed at the last Heads of
Delegation meeting on 18 November, I have been continuing to spend a fair
amount of time travelling to various regions to meet groups of Ministers. I
have been able to do so secure in the knowledge that the consultations here
are in capable hands. This does not mean that I take this process for
granted. Far from it. I realize that it is here that progress has to be
made. However I felt that, rather than simply duplicating your efforts here
Mr Chairman, I might be able to add some extra value through further
ministerial contacts. And so, I think, it has proved, as I shall mention in
a minute. But first, let me emphasize that, even while I have been away from
Geneva, I have been kept constantly and closely in touch with events here
through a stream of reports. Indeed I have even been quoting some of the
things that you have been saying here, Mr Chairman, to the Ministers I have
met, to give them a flavour of how things are going back in Geneva.
At the last Heads of Delegation meeting I mentioned my contacts with some
groups of Ministers in Bangkok and Cairo. Since then I have, in addition to
continuing as usual to see a number of Ministers and Ambassadors here in
Geneva, met certain other gatherings - of Central American Ministers in
Tegucigalpa, thanks to Minister Garcia of Honduras; and of Caricom Ministers
and representatives in Georgetown, thanks to Minister Rohee of Guyana. The
discussions obviously did not go into great detail. But — as previously at
Bangkok and Cairo, so with Tegucigalpa and Georgetown — all the Ministers
present strongly reaffirmed their determination to ensure that the Doha
Development Agenda negotiations regain momentum at the earliest possible
time. And they indicated, despite varying degrees of difficulty with one or
other aspects, or a desire to see certain enhancements, a willingness to
take the Derbez text as a general starting point.
The degree of general commonality of views I have encountered among
ministers around the world in the last six weeks or so is striking. It is
absolutely clear that the initial reports in certain quarters about the
demise of the DDA are completely unfounded. The political will to carry on
and conclude the round is fully in evidence. Ministers I have spoken to want
to see Cancun not as a failure but as a stepping stone to success. The
status quo is not acceptable.
The challenge, as ever, is to translate this general sense of commitment
into concrete progress in the negotiations. Of course this is difficult,
given the complexity of both our agenda and the way in which the WTO
operates. For you, the Heads of Delegation who have this highly onerous
task, it must sometimes seem Sisyphian, as Ambassador Seixas Correa is fond
The report to the General Council on 15 December will certainly need to
mention quite a number of the continuing problems with the negotiations.
There is no point in glossing over difficulties. We have to be realistic. It
is worrying that we have seen too little real negotiation in recent weeks,
and too little searching for common ground. We should all reflect on what we
might have done differently, and on what we might do differently in future,
in order to move into a more urgent problem-solving mode.
Having said this, we have made some headway in the last few weeks, as you
have indicated in your introductory remarks, Mr. Chairman. We have also in
some key areas been able to identify what exactly are the main sticking
points or crucial issues. Furthermore, as I have said, the overall sense of
commitment is most definitely still there.
I believe therefore that the message that we should give both to each other
and to the outside world on 15 December should, while being realistic, be
overall a positive one, of unwavering commitment to the DDA, determination
to make concrete progress, and confidence that we are going to succeed.
The message would be entirely consistent with what Ministers everywhere have
been telling me. It would be helpful in my view if we could take it as a
collective responsibility to get such a message across to others.
So, in conclusion, let us not flag in our efforts. On the contrary, let us
keep working, with a renewed sense of urgencies and engagement, taking steps
forward progressively towards the ultimate objective. For my part, I shall
continue to listen closely to your views. The Secretariat and I stand ready
to assist in any way that we can with your ongoing efforts in this noble