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.
calls for political will to rapidly bridge differences
remarks by Chair
remarks by Chair
Press Conference: Mr. Keith Rockwell, WTO Spokesman
> 25 July
> 26 July
The seven ministers and their officials are part of what Mr Lamy has
called the “variable geometry” of the talks. This change results from
slower progress in the “Green
Room” meetings of about 30 representative ministers.
Mr Lamy stressed to the 24 July informal Trade Negotiations Committee
meeting that whatever is agreed among the seven would still have to go
through the larger groupings such as the Green Room and eventually the
full membership — a process sometimes described as “concentric circles”
An area showing significant progress is export competition (export
subsidies and related issues such as export finance and food aid), “with
just a few loose ends to be tidied up,” he said.
The ministers’ consultations ended at 3.30 am. Mr Lamy said they
genuinely shared a desire to bridge differences. The discussion was
intensive, detailed and specific “involving numbers and a clear
enunciation of possibilities and problem areas”.
In agriculture the focus continued to be on: overall trade-distorting
domestic support for developed countries; cotton; top-tier tariff cuts
for developed countries; sensitive products, which will be shielded from
full tariff cuts in return for some market access through quotas with
lower tariffs; developing countries’ special products which will also be
shielded from full tariff cuts; and temporary increases in developing
country tariffs to deal with import surges or price slumps — the
“special safeguard mechanism”.
On non-agricultural market access (NAMA) the focus was on: the formula
and flexibilities (allowing smaller tariff cuts); the anti-concentration
clause (a proposal to prevent an entire sector from being shielded from
cuts); and “sectorals” (free or freer trade in a sector).
(For explanations see: unofficial guide to the 10 July 2008 agriculture
here, and “the
July 2008 NAMA modalities text made simple”)
On some of these issues, “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,” Mr Lamy reported. The seven
delegations would meet again later on Thursday 24 July, the fourth day
of the meetings involving ministers.
Mr Lamy asked Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to report on
his consultations on three intellectual property issues: the
multilateral register for wines’ and spirits’ geographical indications
(GIs), extending higher level geographical indications protection beyond
wines and spirits (“GI extension”), and proposals to require patent
applicants to disclose the origin of genetic material and traditional
knowledge — formally the relationship between the WTO Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and the UN
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Despite the late finish, the informal Trade Negotiations Committee,
chaired by Mr Lamy, met as usual at 10 am. But the need for more time
for all the processes means the
services signalling conference will now be on Saturday 26 July, two days later than originally
scheduled, and the formal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting, due to
wrap up these talks on 26 July, will also probably be postponed — Mr Lamy did not say when it would meet.
“So please spare no effort over the next 24 hours to resolve the
comparatively few outstanding issues,” he said. “I believe the prize is
within sight, and we must not fail to claim it. What’s on the table is
already potentially major progress.We know we’re not there yet, but
let’s not … let this slip.”
Several members said they were concerned that the negotiations now
involved only seven members. They said they understood the need for
consultations in small groups, but the seven could not properly
represent them and lack of information about the discussion meant that
even some group coordinators could not brief their coalitions. They
cautioned that this could jeopardize the “transparent” and “inclusive”
principles of the negotiations process and deprive members of ownership
of the outcome.
“I totally agree that we have to work out this problem of ownership,” Mr
Lamy replied. “This problem exists. … Ownership is a problem, but there
is a bigger problem if there is nothing to own.”
He added that he had already scheduled briefing sessions with some
coalition coordinators so that they in turn could keep the members of
their groups informed.
A few speakers focused on urging fellow-members to recognize that what
is on the table represents a good deal, and that members should grasp
the opportunity. Some underscored their concerns about some of the
issues being discussed. One said that as a developing country the
“development dimension” of the Doha Round should be achieved by
providing opportunities to trade and not through protectionism, and by
strengthening the WTO’s trading system, which has already proved its
Today’s speakers in the informal Trade Negotiations Committee were:
Switzerland, the African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) group (Mauritius
speaking), Chile, Indonesia, Argentina, the African Group (Kenya
speaking), Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Chinese Taipei, Uruguay, New Zealand.
Texts of some of the statements — those supplied by delegations for
publication on the website — can be found
During the meeting, Mr Lamy aksed Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas
Gahr Støre to report on his consultations on intellectual property
issues. This is what he said:
“As the Director-General informed you yesterday, he has asked me to
help him in the capacity of a “friend” by holding informal contacts
with delegations on the TRIPS-related issues of the GI register, GI
extension and the TRIPS/CBD relationship.
“I started this process yesterday by meeting delegations representing
the main positions on both sides of each issue. This was useful in
giving me a first hand understanding of their positions and concerns.
It is clear that there are important differences of substance on all
three issues and on process and mandate in relation to GI extension
and TRIPS/CBD, although it appears that some issues may prove to be
more difficult than others.
“I will be continuing my informal contacts with delegations today, in
a variety of formats, with a view to assisting Members find a common
understanding of the way forward on these issues. I will report to you
once more tomorrow on my consultations.”
by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre
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