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
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
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
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,
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
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:
H.E. Mr. Andrés Velasco (Chile)
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
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.)