Trade Negotiations Committee
by President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso
would like to welcome delegations to the tenth meeting of the Trade
Thinking back to our meeting in May, I remember the very constructive
statements we heard and the definite political momentum which was
evident. Since then, we have witnessed more encouraging signs of
high-level political commitment to the Round and to finishing it on
schedule. This has been made clear in recent days by the G-8 Heads of
State in Evian and by the other heads of State and Government present
there. This commitment was also clearly expressed by APEC Trade
Ministers at their meeting in Thailand. The importance of the Round was
also recently underlined at our meeting with IMF Managing Director Horst
Köhler and World Bank President James Wolfensohn here at WTO.
I welcome these pledges of support and these reiterations of commitment
to a successful and timely conclusion to our work. But we must now
transform these words into action.
We are all aware that, at the end of May, two more target dates passed.
However, it is important that we keep these in perspective, as I believe
most delegations are doing. In Non-agricultural Market Access, good work
has been done and I believe that further progress will be made before
Cancún under the very able guidance of Ambassador Girard. His paper
forms a good basis for this, and I believe it provides the right
elements for reaching agreement in this vital area of our work.
Much progress has also been made in the Dispute Settlement negotiations
under the leadership of Ambassador Balás. Once we have heard and
discussed his report, I may have some suggestions to make concerning
possible ways to maintain the momentum in this area.
Since our last meeting we have also moved ahead with another important
aspect of our work – Implementation-related issues. Following an
open-ended consultation at Heads of Delegation level on 14 May, at which
we discussed possible next steps on these issues, I held another such
consultation in my capacity as Director-General on one important issue
under this heading – issues related to the extension of the protection
of Geographical Indications to products other than wines and spirits.
I intend to convene further Heads of Delegations meetings shortly, so
that we can take up all of the outstanding Implementation issues in line
with paragraph 12(b) of the Doha Declaration. I will, of course, also
take up the other areas of the TNC's work in the same format and in
close co-operation with the General Council Chairman.
However, time is running out. The Cancún Conference starts in a little
over 90 days in total, and we are due to consider our reports to
Ministers at our next meeting in mid-July, a little over a month away.
As I have said before, we cannot afford to transmit too many unresolved
issues to Ministers. We now have to put every effort into reaching
agreement wherever possible. And where this is not possible, we must be
able to indicate to Ministers where their attention is needed and
provide them with solid bases for their consideration. If we do not do
this we will be failing in our duty to them.
Let me conclude by agreeing with the G-8 leaders that continued trade
opening, combined with stronger international trade rules and
disciplines, represents the optimum path to global growth, both in their
countries and elsewhere, and particularly in developing countries.
Before opening the floor for statements by delegations, I would like to
say a few words about the situation concerning the DSU negotiations.
Ambassador Balás' report has shown that a significant amount of progress
has been made in this complex and vital area, even if it has not been
possible to reach agreement by 31 May. Clearly the question we now face
is what should be the next steps in respect of these negotiations. I
understand from Ambassador Balás and from consultations carried out on
my behalf by DDG Yerxa that there is general support for continuing our
work towards an agreement, building upon the progress reflected in the
draft Chair's text and in other submissions by Members. However, there
still remains some differing views on the exact timeframe and scope of
With respect to this latter point, it is clear that any decision about a
new timeframe for the negotiations is for the Ministerial Conference, or
the General Council under its delegated authority, to take. My sense is
that it may well be possible to resolve this at the General Council
level. Accordingly, with the TNC's agreement I would plan to recommend
to the General Council Chairman that he undertake consultations with a
view to addressing this issue as appropriate at the Council's July
In the meantime, our consultations indicate acceptance that Ambassador
Balás could hold a further informal meeting of a technical nature
between now and the July General Council.
Any continuing work of this nature should be undertaken in full respect
of the resource constraints and pressure of work on delegations. It
would represent simply a pragmatic, interim means to maintain momentum,
and would be undertaken without prejudice to any delegation's position
on the formal status of these negotiations.
I hope that you will be able to endorse this approach, which seeks to
safeguard everyone's position while enabling us to continue doing useful
work in this negotiation of great systemic importance.