Good morning and thank you for coming to
this informal meeting of Heads of Delegation.
I would like to update you, as promised, on the consultations I have
been holding since our last meeting. Just to recall, as I mentioned
yesterday, these consultations focussed in particular on six key
elements in agriculture (OTDS, Cotton, market access formula for
developed countries, Sensitive Products, Special Products and SSM)
and three key issues in NAMA (Formula and Flexibilities,
Anti-Concentration and sectorals).
In addition, I mentioned that the Negotiating Chairs were continuing
to consult on a number of other issues, including in agriculture
preferences, tropical products, in-quota rates, tariff capping and
export competition; and in NAMA preference erosion, including those
Let me point out that some significant progress has been made on
Export Competition, where I believe there is now the basis for
agreement, with just a few loose ends to be tidied up.
On the key issues I have identified, I
have to report that we do not yet have convergence. Ministers and
officials have worked long and hard into the early hours of this
morning, and there was ó and is ó a genuine shared desire to bridge
differences. The negotiations have been not only intensive, but also
detailed and specific, involving numbers and a clear enunciation of
possibilities and problem areas.
However, on some of the key issues I mentioned positions still
remain too far apart. The priorities among these issues vary among
delegations, but I think all agree that more work is needed overall.
These issues are both technically and politically complex.
On the other hand, there is a firm commitment among the delegations
I consulted to renew their efforts to find convergence today.
Everyone wants to find a positive solution to these differences,
because our common interest is so great.
We will resume the consultations this afternoon and the Negotiating
Chairs are also continuing to work on the issues.
Now more than ever we need your undoubted political will to be
applied to finding additional flexibility so that we can bridge the
remaining differences rapidly. We al know this is a crucial time and
we have to give ourselves and the Round every chance of success.
In order to give adequate time for these processes and also for
delegations to consult with their capitals and among themselves, it
will be necessary to postpone the Services Signalling Conference
further, to Saturday 26 July. The TNC timing will probably also have
to be adjusted.
I ask all of you to spare no effort over the next 24 hours to
resolve the remaining issues. I believe the prize is within sight,
and we must not fail to claim it. What is on the table already
represents major progress. We are not there yet, but let us not let
this opportunity slip.
I would now like to ask Minister StÝre to report on the work he has
been doing on my invitation on the TRIPS-related issues of GIs and
the TRIPS/CBD relationship.
[Report presented by Minister StÝre.]
I would like to thank Minister StÝre for his report and for the work
he is undertaking to facilitate convergence on how to move these
I will ask now those delegations who wish to speak at this HODs
meeting to take the floor. May I request as before that you keep
your remarks as brief and focused as possible. This is the right way
to address the issues in this forum, and I want to thank you in
advance for that.
The floor is open.
[Statements from delegations.]
Before we adjourn, let me say that I
totally understand, and share, the concerns of those of you who feel
that this process is frustrating and sometimes too obscure, although
I am trying my best to keep you informed. Let me repeat once more
that any decision can only be taken by the membership as a whole. No
decision can be taken by a small group, and no decision will be
taken by a small group. I'm as eager as you are to move to larger
circles, and some of the consultations we are having involve other
than the restricted circle we have been working in all night.
However, please understand that in order to move to larger circles
overall we need a basis to do it. And that's the blunt reality. This
being said, in terms of transparency I think that most of your
coordinators ó or Members who belong to your group and who have been
associated with the various consultations ó are in a position to
brief you. I understand that there are group meetings today, and
that there have been already group meetings this morning, where the
members of the group have been debriefed. I recognize that this is
not the case for each and every group, which is why in the case of
the ACP, AU and G-90 I have scheduled for today a meeting with the
three coordinators. I will do as much as I can in terms of the
number of hours each day to provide this sort of transparency. I
need the coordinators and the groups to assist me. Please understand
again the fundamental principle which I have always stuck to, namely
that decisions can only be taken by the membership as a whole. If,
as I hope, convergence emerges in a small circle it will have to be
enlarged in successive concentric circles and it will not come
suddenly to this HODs meeting tomorrow morning or to the formal TNC
meeting scheduled for Saturday. Let us go back to work on the
substance and we will return in this format tomorrow morning at 10
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