WTO: 2008 NEWS ITEMS

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Statements by delegations

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Introductory Remarks

Good morning and welcome. The purpose of this meeting, as always, is to update you on the consultations I have been holding and to hear your views on the negotiations.

Since our Heads of Delegation meeting yesterday, I have held further consultations with delegations, together with the negotiating group Chairs, in order to progress our critical work. The format of my consultations involved, as I announced yesterday, both a small as well as a larger and broadly representative group of delegations, including group coordinators.

Focus in these discussions continued to be on the six key elements in Agriculture and the three key elements in NAMA which I outlined to you on Wednesday.

When we met yesterday, many of you had urged the Members participating in these consultations to show leadership, and to make the compromises that would help move us towards the establishment of modalities in Agriculture and NAMA. I believe they have listened to you, and the package of elements that has been circulated in the room ó and which was also made available on the Members' website yesterday ó represents their contribution, and I believe it is an important contribution to progress towards establishment of modalities.

The various elements of this package are linked in one way or another as part of a whole, and should be seen as such. This is not a final product, but one around which to build convergence in order to move the whole of the modalities forward. There are elements in this package with which many at this stage are uncomfortable to a larger or lesser degree, including some who have expressed specific reservations.

It is not my intention to propose to have a detailed discussion on these elements today. The package will remain on the table as a contribution toward our work. But, as you all recognize, this is by no means the full picture of our task. There remain many elements not in this package which are dear to many of you and therefore need to be tackled urgently in order to find the overall political balance. This is necessary because as I have said many times, there is no such thing as partial modalities.

This being the case, the next step in our consultative process therefore is to address these other issues.

They include, in Agriculture cotton, preference erosion, tropical products, bound in-quota tariff rates, tariff simplification, tariff quota administration, developing country sensitive products to name a few.

In NAMA, focus of our work needs to be on issues such as preference erosion, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela issue or RAMs issues.

Keeping in mind the urgency of our task, the Chairs of the negotiating groups have already convened consultations for today and tomorrow to address these issues. I would urge your Senior Officials to begin work extremely urgently with the two negotiating group Chairs. I will myself be chairing the Services Signalling Conference which is scheduled for 2 p.m. today.

I will thereafter continue to take up these issues, as needed, in the same way as I took up the earlier issues, namely in various Ministerial configurations as necessary with full reporting back to this open-ended HODs. The goal is to produce as rapidly as possible a further package on the next group of issues, which I can then also put before you for your consideration.

With these words, let me now invite 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 from Minister StÝre.]

I would like to thank Minister StÝre for his report and once again for the work he is undertaking on these issues.

With these words, I will ask now those delegations who wish to speak at this HODs meeting to take the floor. Following this meeting, the negotiating group Chairs and I will renew our consultations, before reporting back to our next HODs meeting, which will be held Monday morning at the same time.

The floor is open.

[Statements from delegations.]

 

Closing Remarks

We will now go back to the various consultations. I would like to recall that we have a Services Signalling Conference this afternoon. After one week of hard work, I believe we have a basis for possible convergence. As many of you have said, we need to build on that towards something which will be a global package and not only on a few issues. In achieving this after one week of hard work, I think we have also created a necessity for a few more days of very hard work and this is what we have to do now. See you next in this format on Monday at 10 am.

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