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implementation and development: the Doha agenda
Doha Declaration explained
Implementation Decision explained
the negotiations are organized
Trade Negotiations Committee
I would like to welcome you all to this meeting, the purpose of
which is to review the state of play in the negotiations in the light of
what has taken place since we last met in this format one week ago.
As I mentioned last week, a number of Ministers met in London on Monday in
what was probably the first cross-cutting discussion at that level, moving
beyond the issue of Agriculture to the rest of the negotiating agenda. It
would not be true to say that any substantive progress was made in that
small group, but there were a number of useful exchanges, and the
willingness of the Ministers involved to look at the negotiations in a
horizontal way was a positive sign.
Following that meeting, I continued my process of consultations which I
started last week, capitalising on the presence of a larger number of
Ministers here in Geneva. In an initial session on Tuesday, Ministers,
Vice-Ministers and Ambassadors from a range of Members took part in a
discussion of the current situation, an assessment of the prospects for Hong
Kong and the possible next steps. This was followed by two sessions with
Ministers only, to have cross-cutting discussions on first, the market
access aspects of Agriculture, NAMA and Services on Tuesday, and second,
development-related issues on Wednesday.
Before I go into what took place during these sessions, I would like to say
a word about the process I used. I know that some of the delegations
involved were unhappy with my decision to hold some discussions among
certain of you only, and I am sorry for that. I can assure you that no
offence was intended to any participant. I would like to convey to you that
I believe that the Chair has to use all the means at his disposal to explore
initial points of common ground with the aim of developing convergence in
the time-honoured manner — concentric circles, while fully acknowledging
that any decision can only be taken by the entire membership. The starting
point, or the smallest circle if you prefer, is always something which
creates dissonance among those who are not included. As I said to the many
of you with whom I spoke last night, we know it has to be done, but at the
same time we have trouble accepting that it is being done. But, ultimately,
this has to be part of the trust that you, the Members, place in any Chair.
And let me tell you that it is my strong belief that the Chair has to be at
the service of the entire membership, you.
I have repeatedly given you my assurances of my strong commitment to
transparency and inclusiveness. I stand by these. Nothing can replace the
inclusive format of the whole membership as we are this morning — the
earliest possible opportunity after the meetings of the last two days.
To close this chapter on the procedures of meetings in the last few days and
the reactions thereto, let me tell you that my assistants — who are not
always kind to their boss — have not failed to transmit to me in sometimes undiplomatic and insistent ways, the concerns and views of some of you.
Let me now turn to the substance of those meetings. I opened the initial
session on Tuesday by giving my diagnosis of the situation. I will repeat it
now, and I can say right now that nothing that took place over the last
couple of days has led me to change it.
We have both some bad news, and a little good news on the negotiating front.
I will start with the bad news: there is not a sufficient level of
convergence among Members on the level of ambition in the key areas of the
negotiations, which would allow the Chairs to draft “Full Modalities”,
meaning by that a text with number or parameters on all elements of the July
This, of course, leads us to the question of whether we can jump from the
July 2004 Framework directly to full modalities by Hong Kong, or whether we
need an intermediary stage at Hong Kong instead. If we try this jump and we
miss it, we might lose what has already been achieved — and this is not at
Let me give you a few examples of differences that make it difficult to
arrive at full modalities at this time. Some have said they are not in a
position, at this stage, to move further on Agricultural market access,
unless there is more on the table on NAMA, Services or GIs. Others have said
they are only able to keep their offer on reduction of Domestic Subsidies if
there is an improved offer on market access in agriculture on the table. Yet
others say they can only agree to table a proposal of cuts of its industrial
tariffs (NAMA) which would bite in applied rates if there is an improvement
in, and to the extent of, a new offer on Agricultural market access. And we
also hear from other sides that they will only discuss NAMA if there is a
sufficient degree of precision on Special Products and the Special Safeguard
All of this adds up to some very wide gulfs, and it is only part of the
picture. On horizontal issues of particular importance to developing
countries, like preference erosion, which remains very divisive; small
economies, or on less controversial issues such as the the treatment of LDCs;
not forgetting tropical products, cotton and the Aid for Trade package,
consultations and negotiations are not advanced enough.
So the question is whether — to use the words of the Indian Minister Kamal
Nath - we “recalibrate” the expectations for Hong Kong — to what can
reasonably be achieved or whether we are ready to run the risk of making
Hong-Kong an “announced failure”.
Obviously there is a risk that by recalibrating Hong Kong we take pressure
off the negotiations and start losing precious time. But the deadline of end
of 2006 remains. The question is not to stop walking, but to advance step by
step towards Hong Kong. We need to recreate a “negotiating spirit” among
members which has been absent these last days. And, as I have already said,
I do not think “take it or leave it attitudes” will help us make progress in
So what is the good news? First, it is my sense that nobody wants to reduce
the level of ambition for the Round. This, in itself, is proof that there is
a will — and where there is a will there is a way. We just have to find that
Second, if you look in a dispassionate way at what is already on the table,
you will see that what is already there is not negligible. I am not saying
we have enough on the table. All I am saying is that we are all better off
being realistic — and this means recognising that the material on the table
is such that if it disappears you will all have a problem. You all surely
have an interest in preserving what has been achieved until now.
My message, therefore, to those in Tuesday's meeting was that I saw the need
for reflection, maybe for adjustment but that I certainly saw the need for
continued negotiations, in a focused and realistic way.
The two following sessions took up substance in a cross-cutting way, as I
suggested we must now start to do at last week's Heads of Delegation
meeting. We need to do this because for many of you the single undertaking
is not enough of an insurance policy against uneven results. The reality is
that there is a trust deficit among Members, which handicaps the whole
Hence the usefulness of the first session on Tuesday night, where we managed
to talk turkey on market access in Agriculture, NAMA and Services. The
discussion did start to provide a sense of the proportionality which might
be needed across these three areas. This is something we need to develop
It was also clear to me from what was said that we all need to work much
more on numbers, and I suggest that any delegation which has its own numbers
could use the Secretariat as a clearing house for them, whether they want to
share them with others or even just so that they can be checked.
In yesterday's session, we had a discussion on developmental aspects of the
DDA negotiations, taking note that the Chair of the General Council is
consulting on the non-negotiating elements of the package, many of which are
equally important parts of the Development Dimension of our overall work
programme. There is a recognition that the largest development gains will
come from substantial results in each one of the areas under negotiation,
taken together, particularly Agriculture, NAMA, Services and Trade
Facilitation. It is clear that we will start to see the shape of the
development package by advancing in these areas.
Equally, development issues under the negotiations will not move until all
issues move, and this includes the trade aspects of cotton. At the same
time, while keeping high the ambition on the market access side, we will
clearly have to address issues such as small economies or
preference-erosion, and build the necessary base for an Aid for Trade
package for the end of the Round that will help translate the development
package of the Round into reality. Some initiatives might well still be
within reach at Hong Kong, such as harvesting a number of Agreement-specific
S&D proposals, including for LDCs, but I do not believe our discussions have
revealed any significant substantive advances.
So much for the history of the last two days. Now, what does this mean in
practical terms? If we all agree that we cannot reach “Full Modalities” by
Hong Kong, then we must necessarily recalibrate our expectations for our
Conference. We must carefully reflect on what we want to achieve at and
after Hong Kong, in order not to reduce the level of ambition of the whole
This probably means we are looking at having a range of numbers — the outer
parameters — in the July 2004 Frameworks, and corresponding texts in the
rule-making parts of the negotiations. This would still have to make up an
overall package, and would have to be, by definition, balanced.
We would try to capture as much as possible what has been achieved since
July 2004, so that we have a package available for Hong Kong which is
clearly a step forward compared to the July Framework. We should also
consider that whatever would be needed in terms of further concessions in
order to achieve full modalities shortly after Hong Kong.
We all know we need to go to Hong Kong with a draft text for Ministers and
that we have less and less time in which to develop the elements of this
text. We must now find a way of moving towards these elements, in full
cognizance of our recalibrated ambitions for them and the need to capture
the progress we have made, and we must do this by helping the Chairs take
advantage of the bottom-up approach. I have also suggested to the Ministers
that we need their full cooperation and involvement in this to move forward.
They are very willing to do this, and I am considering how we can go about
it. It has to start, of course, through their instructions to you, their
negotiators in Geneva.
To sum up, and to highlight what I am putting to you as questions this
1. do you all agree with my diagnosis of the situation, and
2. do we need an intermediate stage in Hong Kong before we go to full
If so, this means has to be reflected in the Chairs' work and they need your