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Negotiations, implementation and development: the Doha agenda
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The Trade Negotiations Committee

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Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Let me start by welcoming today the participants to the Geneva Week for non-residents who have the opportunity to attend this General Council meeting.

Since my last report to the General Council in February, the TNC has held one informal meeting, on 20 April. In my opening remarks at that meeting, the full text of which was made available to delegations in document JOB(07)/51, I highlighted the increased level of activity taking place in and around the negotiations since we returned to full negotiating mode in February.

In the days preceding our informal meeting, a number of major players had affirmed their commitment to a successful outcome of our negotiations around the end of this year, and also committed themselves to intensifying their efforts to finding common ground as a contribution to the conclusion of the Round.

This commitment from major players was welcomed and supported by participants at our meeting on 20 April. However, there are no illusions about the challenges it represents. All of us here in Geneva are well aware of the sequence of necessary steps which will be needed to conclude the Round and the severe time pressure that sequence now imposes upon us.

The first step in that sequence, of course, is to establish modalities in Agriculture and NAMA, which will then be reflected in the schedules that participants will elaborate in the next step. It will also be necessary to bring the work in the other areas of negotiation to a commensurate level of maturity if we are to have the whole package agreed by the end of this year. At our informal meeting, I did not propose a specific timeline for these steps, since I believe it is obvious to all of us that there is no time to waste.

So, to be able to meet this challenge, we urgently need serious substantive engagement by all partners in the multilateral process here in Geneva, under the guidance of the Negotiating Group Chairs. The multilateral negotiations can no longer be made to wait for contributions from other processes in or outside Geneva. We can all acknowledge that such processes are potentially useful, hence important, but they must feed into the multilateral one, which is the core of our business and which must now move on rapidly.

I am pleased to report that our informal meeting signalled wide convergence on the shape of the multilateral process we need in the coming weeks, as I had outlined it in my opening remarks. Through their different processes, the Chairs of the Negotiating Groups are now working towards revised texts which can become a basis for agreement.

The Agriculture Chair has already issued the first instalment of what he has termed a “challenges” paper, identifying centres of gravity on the different pillars and aimed at provoking participants into showing movement away from current positions and towards consensus. Participants had the opportunity to react to this first paper at an informal meeting on Monday 7 May, and as could be expected, a wide range of views were expressed by a large number of delegations on its content. The level of engagement at Monday's meeting was encouraging. It shows that we do indeed have an active multilateral process and that participants appear to be serious about negotiating within it. And I want to thank Crawford Falconer for this hard work, his determination and cleverness in making you all reasonably unhappy!

Once he has issued the second instalment of his paper next week, he will start an intensive series of consultations aimed at moving towards a revised agriculture modalities text. To take the process forward, we now need to see participants negotiating with each other, not with the Chairs.

In NAMA, Don Stephenson is holding a continuous process of consultations, starting this week. As he has rightly pointed out to participants, they have asked him to draft a new negotiating text, so it is now up to all of you to use the multilateral process to tell him what to write.

In the other areas of negotiation, similar processes will also be used by the Chairs to develop texts. I believe that to facilitate this work, it is essential that all participants show an equal level of support to them through constructive inputs and a real willingness to negotiate.

Finally, on Aid for Trade, I am also happy to report that preparations for the three regional Aid for Trade reviews are advancing well. The first review is scheduled to take place in Lima, Peru on 5-7 September for the Latin America/Caribbean region, the second review will take place in Manila, Philippines on 19-20 September for the Asian region and the third review will take place on 27-28 September in Tanzania for the Africa region. In all these three regional reviews, the respective regional development banks are taking the lead in coordinating the preparations. All this will lead to the monitoring and evaluation event which will be hosted here on 20-21 November.

In my recent contacts with Members, both here in Geneva and at meetings I have attended outside Geneva, I have underlined my belief that a successful outcome to the Round is possible, even in the small amount of time remaining until the end of this year. I have warned governments that if they do not compromise soon, they will be forced to confront the unpleasant reality of failure. This would mean foregoing the very significant package of trade opening and rule-making that the Round represents, and breaching the commitment which was taken to work for a more developing friendly world trading system.

The challenge before us is now not technical, but rather political. It is about leadership, about compromise, about countries recognizing their common interest in success and the collective costs of failure. I urge all of you to put all your energy and commitment now into concluding the Round.

That concludes my report. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

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