WTO: 2007 NEWS ITEMS

Lamy: “The target has not changed”

Director-General Pascal Lamy, in opening an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee on 22 June 2007, stressed that “the need now is for urgent action to restore confidence that these negotiations can and will be finished successfully.” He urged Members to “engage fully in the multilateral process led by the Chairs, and put your cards on the table over the coming weeks in Geneva so that we can reach full modalities.”

Chairman's Opening Remarks — Informal TNC meeting at the level of Head of Delegation


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Thank you all for coming to this meeting at very short notice. I thought it would useful to take stock of where we are and clarify together the next steps.

As you all know, the Ministers of 4 key participants have been meeting to try to bridge gaps in their negotiating positions, with the aim of contributing to the process here in Geneva. This does not appear to have been possible, but I will leave any further comments on substance to the representatives of those Members.

But what I can say is that I have spoken to all four Ministers separately and that all four have told me that they want the process to continue here in Geneva.

I believe that prior convergence among the G4 would have been helpful to pave the way towards multilateral convergence on modalities in Agriculture and NAMA. But, as I said yesterday to the press, helpful does not mean indispensable. This negotiation is not a negotiation among just 4 players, it is a collective endeavour among all the participants in the Round — 150 Members and 29 acceding Observers. It is also a Single Undertaking covering a broad agenda with development at its heart. I think it is timely to reassert these basic principles.

I have repeatedly stressed that the core of the negotiation is the Geneva process — the only place where decisions can and should be taken. In April, I expressed my view that our process here in Geneva could not wait upon the timing of any other process, and it has not waited. As I noted at our last meeting on 6 June, this process has taken off, and we must continue to use it to the fullest.

The target has not changed. It remains full modalities in Agriculture and NAMA, and a commensurate level of progress in other areas of the negotiations, in line with the Doha mandates, the July 2004 Decision and the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration. This is the course that you who own the Round have set, and we must stick to it. Let me stress this point: this is your Round, you are the owners of this enterprise, and in my view you have a responsibility towards yourselves and your peers to bring it to a successful conclusion.

We have a strong process here in Geneva. This body is at the centre of it, which is why I have asked you to meet today. It is also clear that now, more than ever, the Negotiating Groups have a key role in our further progress.

As you know, the Chairs of the Agriculture and NAMA groups are working towards revised texts. I know they both take their responsibilities very seriously, as do I as Chair of the TNC and all the other Chairs. They need your full support — not in the abstract, but at a practical level, expressed in a real willingness to seek compromises and provide them with flexibility.

On 6 June, I said that time was not on our side and that this deal was doable. I have not changed my mind but the burden of proof is on all of you now. The need now is for urgent action to restore confidence that these negotiations can and will be finished successfully.

The world will now be watching very closely what each and every one of you will be doing to contribute to the success of the DDA.

The numbers I hear here and there, or those that I pick up in the media, are much closer than last year.

We all know what is at stake here and how important it is for growth, development and the multilateral system.

You now have a unique opportunity to demonstrate that this deal can be successfully closed. So please engage fully in the multilateral process led by the Chairs, and put your cards on the table over the coming weeks in Geneva so that we can reach full modalities.

I do not believe that setting short term deadlines would be helpful, although I know many of you have urgent family commitments for August.

I suggest that from now on the process be conducted by the Chairs and myself, playing by ear, adjusting to the pace in your negotiations and making sure everybody is on board. Given today's transparency exercise, the two Chairs have decided to cancel the meetings on agriculture and NAMA scheduled for Monday for the same purpose. They will be informing you of the schedule of meetings and consultations shortly.

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