WTO: 2009 NEWS ITEMS

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Proposed agenda for meeting of 20 October

Chairman's Statement on Agenda Item 6

There are four sub-items under this Agenda item and I suggest that we start by taking up the first three together.

As delegations are aware, I have been carrying out consultations on organizational and other aspects of the Seventh Ministerial Conference under the mandate given to me by the General Council in its Decision in May. The date, venue and general theme for discussion for the Conference were also set by that Decision.

An initial phase of my consultations on some of these issues was held in the lead up to the July General Council, and I think it might be useful if I briefly recall the stage we reached at our July meeting, on the basis of the statement I made then.

First, this Ministerial Conference only, without establishing a precedent, will be chaired by the Minister of the Member providing the General Council Chair, therefore the Minister of Chile.

Second, we established 6 principles which apply to both the Ministerial Conference itself and to its preparation. These principles are:

1. Our whole approach is based on the principle I suggested at the May General Council, summed up by “FIT” — Full participation, Inclusiveness, and Transparency;

2. In May, we had agreed to hold a regular Ministerial Conference, which means that it should not be structured around negotiating processes, but instead provide an opportunity for discussion and direction at Ministerial level across all WTO's activities;

3. It is important not to overload the agenda of the Ministerial Conference;

4. The preparatory work should not divert energy and attention from the DDA;

5. Any issue for action or decision by Ministers proposed by Members should be developed by them in line with the normal consensus principle; and

6. Related to the preceding point, any issue for action or decision by Ministers should be agreed well before the Ministerial Conference.

In relation to these principles, we have a “Gentleman's agreement” that any delegation pursuing an issue for decision, but not achieving consensus by last Friday, 16 October — the deadline for inscribing items on the agenda — would not insist on putting a decision on the agenda.

Third, on the structure of the Conference, there will be two Working Sessions, running in parallel to the Plenary Session. The Working Sessions will be aimed at providing an interactive forum for Ministers, giving them a platform for discussion under two broad sub-themes, as follows:

1. “Review of WTO activities, including the Doha Work Programme” for the first day; and

2. “The WTO's contribution to recovery, growth and development” for the second day.

These sub-themes are designed to be broad enough to accommodate any issues Ministers want to raise, and we should not seek to sub-divide them further.

After the summer break, I continued my consultations, taking up a number of organizational aspects of the Conference which were still outstanding, as well as some issues related to possible substantive issues for the consideration of Ministers. These wide-ranging consultations have been very productive, and I am grateful to delegations for their constructive attitude and hard work over the last few weeks.

Let me now update you on these consultations, starting with organizational aspects of the Conference, which covered essentially seven points.

I would like to start with the two points on which we need to take decisions today. First, Election of Officers, which is sub-item (b) under this point of the Agenda. You will recall that Ministers at Hong Kong requested the General Council to hold consultations with a view to determining the Chairperson and three Vice-Chairpersons of the Ministerial Conference who would hold office until the end of the Seventh Session. On the basis of my recent consultations, I am in a position to propose that the General Council elect the following presiding officers for the Seventh Session:

Chairperson:

H.E. Mr. Andrés Velasco (Chile)

Vice-Chairs:

H.E. Mrs. Doris Leuthard (Switzerland)

 

H.E. Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu (Indonesia)

 

H.E. Mr. Rachid Rachid (Egypt).

(The General Council agreed to elect the presiding officers for the Seventh Ministerial Conference.)

Let me now turn to sub-item (c), which concerns the Attendance of observers from Governments and international intergovernmental organizations. In my consultations, I suggested that we repeat our past practice. This means that Observers at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, both Governments and IGOs, would be invited to the Seventh Ministerial Conference, with the understanding that any new requests would be considered on a case-by-case basis in the usual way, in line with the Rules of Procedure. The list of the Observer Governments and IGOs invited to Hong Kong can be found in document WT/MIN(05)/INF/7/Rev.3, under Categories II and III respectively. In the light of the convergence around my suggestion which was apparent in my consultations, I would like to invite the General Council to agree to the procedure I have just set out.

(The General Council so agreed.)

I will now take up the remaining five organizational points which I took up in my consultations on organizational aspects of the Conference. These are as follows:

1. Plenary Session: in view of the limited time available overall and in line with the FIT principle, it will be necessary to reduce the length of statements from 5 to 3 minutes. Longer statements can, of course, be circulated.

2. Outcome of the Ministerial Conference: there will be a Chair's summary, which will be factual and balanced. All the discussions in the Working Sessions, and of course the Plenary, will also be on the record. In addition, any action taken by Ministers will be reflected in the records of the meeting.

3. Working Sessions: from my consultations it appears that the common denominator is to use one discussant per Working Session. This would be the DG for the first session, and the Ministerial Conference Chair for the second.

4. Date and Venue of next MC: Ministers will take a decision at this Ministerial Conference to hold the next Ministerial Conference at around the same period in 2011. Geneva will be the default venue, unless an offer is forthcoming from a Member. This decision will be, of course, without prejudice to the need to hold a Special Session of the Ministerial Conference to take decisions regarding the adoption and implementation of the results of the Doha negotiations, as set out in paragraph 45 of the Doha Declaration.

5. Negotiating Group Chairs: the re-appointment of the Negotiating Group Chairs will take place in the General Council, in the February slate of names exercise, which has been our past practice.

On the basis of my consultations, I am able to report wide convergence on all these issues. With the Ministerial Conference fast approaching, we need to finalize these organizational issues in the interests of the FIT principle to which we all subscribe. My statement today and those from May and July will now form the basis for a comprehensive Information Note on organizational aspects of the Conference which will be circulated to all delegations shortly after this meeting. I know a lot of you are starting to have questions about various matters in this respect, and I believe we are now able to finalize our plans in this area.

Let me now turn to the substance of the Ministerial Conference. First, with regard to the mandated substance for the Conference, I set out in my statement in July that we have two points for possible action set out by Ministers at Hong Kong —TRIPS non-violation complaints and E-Commerce, both of which have been under consideration in their separate tracks of work. Consultations on these issues were undertaken by the Chair of the TRIPS Council, Amb. Tan, for the first issue, and DDG Singh for the second issue, and I would like to thank them for their strenuous efforts in this respect. Their consultations indicated a consensus on placing these issues on the Proposed Agenda for the Ministerial Conference.

In addition, a third item has been suggested for the Agenda, on the basis of a proposal by 18 Members entitled: “Strengthening the WTO”, contained in document WT/MIN(09)/W/1. In this connection, I would like to thank the delegation of India, the co-sponsors and all those who collaborated with that delegation, for their hard work in this regard, in line with the principles we set out in July. The Proposed Agenda will be circulated to delegations later this week.

Finally, let me conclude my statement with some administrative matters. Since this Ministerial Conference is aimed at being more down-scaled and more cost-effective than previous Conferences, it makes sense to reduce the volume of paper it generates, while maintaining and improving, as far as possible, delegations’rapid access to information and texts. This means improving the electronic means of distributing documents, and an Information Note on this subject will be sent to delegations in the next few days.

In addition, Members may recall that, as indicated in the first Information Note, document WT/MIN(09)/INF/1, the accreditation and registration of participants attending the Ministerial Conference is being undertaken online by Delegation Coordinators. I have been informed by the Secretariat that many Delegations have not yet appointed their Coordinators and that where Coordinators have been designated, only a small number of participants have been registered to date.

I would therefore like to urge Delegations to complete the registration of participants promptly and submit their official attendance sheet online by Friday 13 November 2009 at the latest.

That concludes my statement, and I will now open the floor to delegations.

(The General Council took note of the Chairman's statement and of the statements by delegations.)

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