Doha Declaration explained
Implementation Decision explained
the negotiations are organized
Chairman's Introductory Statement
Since the last formal TNC in July, we have continued and intensified our
work aimed at establishing modalities in Agriculture and NAMA.
Throughout the autumn, this work took on a new importance and urgency in
the light of the global financial crisis, which continues to deepen day
by day. From the discussion we had on 12 November at our informal Heads
of Delegation meeting on the impact of the global financial crisis, the
importance all Members attach to resisting calls for protectionist
measures and to countering financial chaos by further organized,
regulated and balanced trade opening through the Doha Round was very
This was further amplified in the Declaration by the Leaders of the G20
when they met at their summit on the world economy and financial markets
in Washington on 15 November. The Leaders underscored the critical
importance of rejecting protectionism and not turning inward in times of
financial uncertainty, and committed themselves to striving to reach
agreement this year on modalities.
This Declaration by the G20, coupled with similar political exhortations
at the highest level, including at the recent meetings of APEC Leaders
and of LDC Ministers, provided the political impetus which we needed to
advance our process aimed at establishing modalities. As I noted in the
fax to delegations on 17 November, our task was thus to translate the
political commitment into convergence on substantive issues in the short
time available before the end of the year.
Over the last weeks, the efforts of the Agriculture and NAMA Chairs, the
Chairman of the General Council and myself have been aimed squarely at
this — convergence on substance. We have continued the tried and tested
process we have used so far — bottom-up, inclusive and step-by-step.
On 6 December, revised texts were issued by the Chairs of Agriculture
and NAMA. Those texts reflected the real progress we had made over the
past months, and they were generally well received and brought us closer
to our objective. This was followed by several rounds of intensive
consultations to undertake a political testing of the chances of
bridging the remaining substantive gaps in three key areas — Sectorals,
the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) and Cotton. These were 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.
At an informal TNC meeting last Friday, I reported that individual
positions — and the position overall — had not changed significantly
enough. My full report at that informal meeting was circulated to
delegations in document Job(08)/132.
In my report, I noted that from a purely technical perspective, Members
had not been that far from an agreement on those issues. But the
assessment the Chairs and I made was that we had not detected the
political drive to make the moves which would give the final push to the
establishment of modalities.
In conclusion, I suggested that unless this dramatically changed in the
following 48 hours — which was a time frame for which some leaders had
asked — the reality was that 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.
I recognize that this situation is a disappointment for everyone, one
that I fully share. 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.
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 continuing
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.
In the light of this, I suggested last Friday that we should now focus
on seeing how we gather the necessary political energy into next year
and I have been holding consultations with this focus with the Chairs
and a wide range of delegations since then.
From what was said in my consultations, it is clear that the goal which
we all share is not only to consolidate the progress made across the
negotiations, but also to strengthen the relevance of the WTO as a
system which is more than a forum for negotiations.
In this respect, there are three underlying assumptions for our work on
the DDA in early 2009 that stem from my conversations with Members:
1. We have a clear DDA mandate which should remain unchanged;
2. On Agriculture and NAMA we have two texts on the table that are
result of thousands of hours of consultations; these should be preserved
and work should continue starting from them; and
3. Starting in the New Year work should continue on Agriculture and NAMA
to close the gaps which remain, but also there is more to the agenda
than these two issues and that work should also benefit from new impetus
on the rest of the areas.
Under these three assumptions, which I think are reasonably consensual,
what I would put forward for your consideration is the following: a
frame which would allow us to move on two fronts, on the negotiations
but also on the wider front.
On the front of the negotiations:
The Agriculture and NAMA Chairs should resume work at the beginning of
the year, focusing on the areas which remain open and helping Members
forge consensus; they will consult with delegations on how best to do
this depending on the area and on the item; in Agriculture, I think we
all know where the gaps remain and the Chair will be consulting on how
to bridge them; in NAMA, the Chair will hold similar consultations, but
I believe it is also worth digging a bit into numbers in order to have a
better sense of the value of what is on the table and what remains to be
done; the Chair will also be taking this forward with delegations at the
beginning of the year;
The Chairs of other Negotiating Groups will also proceed with their
work; the nature of their work is different: some areas are already
text-based, others are moving towards text-based, some require requests
and offers, but I would suggest that they all build on the good work
done until now from January onwards, and we will hear their reports
Some of you have also mentioned the idea of some sort of early outcomes
and have mentioned areas such as Trade Facilitation, Duty-Free
Quota-Free Market Access, Cotton or the banana issue. Trade facilitation
is the one on which I have detected more consensus. My own sense is that
whether we harvest it earlier or not, at the end of the day this pleads
for accelerating the work on these areas in the coming months, starting
with Trade Facilitation.
On the wider WTO front, I would like to put forward three
elements for your consideration, which also stem from our discussions
First, I believe that the WTO has a particular responsibility to follow
up on the trade measures which been taken in the wake of the financial
crisis; you all know that I have set up an internal Task Force to
produce regular updates of these measures so that we have a better sense
of the trade consequences of the financial crisis.
I am ready to report to you periodically on developments on that front
in writing, as suggested by Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group and by
Japan, also with the support of a number of other Members. My first
report could come already this week.
I also believe it would be useful to provide a forum where this WTO
radar picture could be discussed collectively; I do not think we need to
reinvent the wheel so we could use one of the existing forums in the
house to this effect: the Trade Policy Review Body. I have discussed
this with the Chair of the TPRB, Ambassador Agah of Nigeria, and he is
agreeable to this. We will be looking into a date during the second part
of January when a first review among Members could be held on the basis
of this radar picture.
Second, I believe we need to keep reviewing developments in the area of
trade finance where the WTO early interventions have been useful in
mobilising resources for this important area; trade finance is an area
which seriously impacts trade flows for developing countries and we
should remain vigilant and active.
Third, I believe we need to have a clear roadmap for work on Aid for
Trade in 2009, culminating with the second Global Review before the
summer break. We need to keep the focus on mainstreaming trade into
Members' development policies and we also need to keep pressure on the
mobilization of funds, which has been reasonably successful but where
more could be done, in particular in view of the current financial
Looking into 2009, some of you have mentioned your desire to brainstorm
over issues which are beyond the scope of the negotiations but which
relate to areas interfacing the WTO. I agree with this. The only point I
would make is that this may be a useful exercise, provided it does not
distract us from our main objective of advancing the Round. I suggest we
come back to this in the General Council sometime at the beginning of
A final point: in the New Year we will also have to discuss the next WTO
Ministerial Conference, by which I mean our regular mandated Ministerial
Conference; my own sense is that this need not be the big jamboree we
have seen in the past, but rather a venue where Members take a strategic
look at the future and steps to advance the goals of the organisation.
On this issue, the General Council Chairman will consult with Members to
get their views and take this forward.
In sum, while the year may end in disappointment, we should now gather
ourselves and work in 2009 to demonstrate that the WTO remains as
necessary and credible as ever. The world trading system needs the Doha
Round to better respond to the needs and aspirations of its Members.
Concluding the Round should remain our focus in 2009. But this endeavour
takes place within a more global portfolio of WTO activities in which we
need to keep investing. This task starts today.
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