Doha Declaration explained
Implementation Decision explained
the negotiations are organized
Speaking notes for the Director-General
Thank you for coming at short notice. I
have convened this meeting to report to you on the intensive
consultations I have been holding over the past few days.
As I noted in the fax I sent to all delegations on 17 November, our
starting point was the instructions to their Ministers from the
leaders of the G20 to reach modalities in Agriculture and NAMA by
the end of this year. Coupled with the political impetus at the
highest level which continued to be signalled throughout the last
few months, including at the APEC meeting, this provided us with the
first of the two elements necessary to achieving our common goal.
The second element I set out at that time was of course a focus on
advancing the substance. Our efforts have been aimed squarely at
this over the last weeks, as I set out in my faxes to you of 24
November, and 1 and 8 December. In the latest of those faxes, I was
able to note that we had taken the important step of issuing new
Chairman's texts on Agriculture and NAMA. The Chairs had worked hard
in improving previous proposals, and the new texts were issued last
Those texts reflect the very real progress made in the last months.
They were generally well received and brought us closer to our
objective. We were not far away from that objective, but it was
clear that some tough decisions needed to take place in the
following days, if you were to get modalities done before the end of
As I said in my fax on Monday, I have used this week to hold further
consultations. The purpose of those consultations was, as you will
remember, serious political testing of the chances of bridging the
remaining substantive gaps in three key areas — sectorals, SSM and
cotton. We should be clear: these are not the only issues still
open, not even the most important for many delegations, but without
advancing solutions to these three, we would not stabilise the
modalities texts overall.
As I said, the outcome of these consultations would be crucial in
establishing whether to convene a ministerial gathering to finalise
modalities in agriculture and NAMA with higher chances of success
Since Monday I have conducted targeted consultations, together with
the Chair of the GC and both Ag and NAMA chairs, with specific
members on these three issues. Several rounds of them, in fact.
My first conclusion is that, from a technical point of view, the
issues are not intractable. In fact, from a purely technical
perspective, you are not that far from an agreement on those issues.
The bad news is that individual positions — and the position overall
— have not changed significantly.
On sectors, the underlying issue is a different understanding of the
value of the package on the table. Some understand sectorals as a
top-up, a non-mandatory addition to the main package. It would be
the cherry on the pie. For others, this is an essential part of the
agreement, which can only be finalised if there is a guarantee of
commitments. It would be the pie on the cherry. At this stage, these
two positions are not reconcilable. My sense is that it would help
if we could get a better collective appreciation of the value of
what is on the table, and how much of the difference sectorals would
On the SSM, there remain differences as to the size of the
flexibilities desired. The main architecture of the SSMs, as
proposed in the latest Ag text, is basically there but key
differences remain on the relationship between the duration of the
safeguard and domestic prices.
On cotton, my sense is that both a technical solution as well as the
political will was there.
Our assessment, I mean my assessment and that of the chairs, is that
on sectors and SSM there continues to be a lack of political will to
accommodate the demands from others, or to give comfort to those who
cannot accommodate them. The bottom line is that I have not detected
the political drive, from my interlocutors, to make the moves which
would give the final push to the establishment of modalities on
these two issues. My sense is that there was no readiness to spend
the political capital needed to get to modalities now. The leaders
have expressed a desire, but this has not translated into enough
will at this stage. Unless this dramatically changes in the next 48
hours — which is a timeframe that some of your leaders have asked
for — this is the reality seen from Geneva.
It has been a tough week, trying and trying again, which is, I
believe, my responsibility. But at the end of the day, the
responsibility to compromise lies with you. My other responsibility
is to preserve our system and to be lucid. My assessment today is
that the chances of success in the establishment of modalities in a
Ministerial meeting are not greater than they were when I started
these consultations on Monday.
In my view, therefore, calling Ministers to try to finalise
modalities by the end of the year would be running an unacceptably
high risk of failure which could damage not only the Round but also
the WTO system as a whole.
Given the late time of the year, the political agenda in some parts
of the world in the next weeks, and — I repeat — my conclusions from
all the hours of consultations I have held — I do not think calling
a Ministerial meeting next week would be wise.
This is of course not more than my own assessment of the situation,
coming from my role as facilitator of these talks. Obviously I would
not be discouraging any of you from trying to achieve agreement. If
you so decide, I of course stand ready to keep consulting, to help
you reach an agreement, if your collective view is that you are
ready to try in the next few days.
I recognize that this is a disappointment for everyone, one that I
fully share. And for many of you it is not just a disappointment; it
is an economic setback since it delays much-needed good economic
news. And we seriously need to have this in mind as we move forward.
However, we need to face reality and act in a way which is
consistent with the responsibility we all share for the well-being
of the multilateral trading system.
In conclusion, my recommendation to you — again, unless this changes
dramatically in the next 48 hours — is that we do not convene
ministers to finalise modalities by the end of the year. We have two
comprehensive texts on the table. It is the fruit of seven years of
work. It puts us closer to the finishing line of modalities. This
being so, my sense is that we should now focus on seeing how we
gather the necessary political energy into the New Year.
I intend to continue my dialogue with delegations in various formats
next week to reflect collectively on the next stages. For this
reason I have decided to move the formal TNC to next Wednesday, and
an airgram to this effect has been issued today.
Looking ahead, our aims should not change. I do not believe that
either the political will to preserve the achievements so far or
even the necessity to do so will go away, even more so with the
deterioration of the economic situation. On the contrary, it will
also become more and more important to reaffirm and defend the basic
values of the multilateral trading system and to respect not only
the letter but also the spirit of the rules.
That concludes my report to you today. I would suggest that you all
handle this with restraint. We have a shared responsibility for the
WTO system, and I suggest that what is needed now is some time for
reflection and to develop our thoughts on the way ahead. You will
all have the opportunity to place your views on the record at the
TNC on Wednesday, so I would suggest that no delegation takes the
floor this afternoon and that all delegations be given an
opportunity to express their views and put them on the record on
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