THIS NEWS ITEM IS DESIGNED TO HELP THE PUBLIC UNDERSTAND DEVELOPMENTS IN
THE WTO. WHILE EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO ENSURE THE CONTENTS ARE
ACCURATE, IT DOES NOT PREJUDICE MEMBER GOVERNMENTS’ POSITIONS.
> 25 July
> 26 July
About 30 ministers spoke in a morning meeting of the WTO’s full
membership of 152. More delegations will speak tomorrow when this
informal session of the Trade Negotiations Committee continues.
Scheduled for the rest of the day were consultations in a wide range of
different forms, including “Green
Room” meetings of a representative group of about 40 ministers.
Several speakers picked up a number of themes introduced by
Director-General Pascal Lamy at the start of the meeting. He spoke of
the difficult task ahead of them, the need to conclude the Doha Round in
order to stimulate and stabilize the world economy, the need for WTO
members to make an effort as a team to reach agreement.
Pascal Lamy’s statement
The central task before WTO members during the coming week is to try to
agree on “modalities”, which will include formulas for cutting
agricultural and non-agricultural tariffs and farm subsidies.
“Establishing modalities in agriculture and NAMA [non-agricultural
market access] does not mean that the negotiations on these two issues
are over,” Mr Lamy reminded members when
he opened the meeting. “ Let me again stress that the establishment of
modalities is, instead, a necessary stage to allow us to proceed to the
preparation of schedules [ie, each country’s tables showing cuts in
tariffs and subsidies and other details], and to accelerate the
negotiations in the other areas.”
The “uphill journey” requires “patience and determination” but agreement
on this major step in the negotiations is within reach, he said.
“I can think of no stronger spur for our action than the threats which
are facing the world economy across several fronts, including rises in
food prices and energy prices and financial market turbulences. There is
widespread recognition that a balanced outcome of the Doha Round could
in these circumstances provide a strong push to stimulate economic
growth, providing better prospects for development and ensuring a stable
and more predictable trading system.”
Mr Lamy also described the planned process: “no surprises, intensive
informal consultations in a variety of configurations — bilateral,
plurilateral and multilateral”, with decisions only taken by the full
membership in a process that is “transparent” (information shared fully)
and “inclusive” (all members represented).
He compared the task to climbing a mountain. “The only way to reach the
top is understanding each others’ interests and limitations.”
The starting point will be the 10 July draft agriculture and
non-agricultural (industrial products) market access
Mr Lamy reported that some further progress has already been made in
market access for industrial products and that details would be
circulated later in the day.
The formal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee, which would end
the present phase of the talks, is scheduled for Saturday 26 July, but
it could be postponed to allow all delegations to study “the final
product”, he said.
All the speakers in this morning’s meeting were ministers. They
expressed strong support for concluding the “modalities” texts in
agriculture and non-agricultural products.
Several said they also want to move forward on some issues that interest
them such as services, rules (including fisheries subsidies) and in some
cases intellectual property — the multilateral register for wines’ and
spirits’ geographical indicators, extending to other goods the enhanced
protection currently given to wines’ and spirits’ geographical
indications, and requiring patent applicants to disclose the origin of
genetic materials and traditional knowledge used in their inventions.
Several echoed Mr Lamy’s comment that concluding the Doha Round is
needed in the present economic climate of uncertainty, high food and
fuel prices and financial problems.
Many said agreement is within reach because of the tremendous amount of
work that has been achieved by senior officials and the chairs of the
agriculture and industrial products talks.
And several reminded fellow-members of the issues that concern them.
Developing countries focused on development needs, but with different
interpretations of what that means. Some said they need flexibilities to
shield their vulnerable farmers or their economies as a whole. Others
said too much flexibility for developing countries would prevent
development through South-South trade.
Countries facing large adjustment in agriculture called for more access
to developed and advanced developing country markets in industrial goods
and services. Others said it is up to the richest countries who distort
agricultural markets the most to make the largest contributions — and
the largest economies accepted this responsibility provided others also
But no new positions were indicated. This is normal practice in an
opening meeting of this kind, spokesperson Keith Rockwell told a press
The informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting continues on Tuesday
morning 22 July.
remarks by Chair
remarks by Chair
Press Conference: Mr. Keith Rockwell, WTO Spokesman
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