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Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee
Thank you Mr Chairman.
Before I report on the activities of the TNC since we last met in this
format, I wish to convey my personal sympathy and that of the membership
to the people in Asia and the Pacific affected by recent natural
Turning now to my report, since I last reported to the General Council
in July, work in the Doha Development Round negotiations has been taken
up again at the level of the Negotiating Groups following the summer
break. You will recall that on 22 September the TNC held an informal
meeting to consider the next steps in the DDA [Doha Development Agenda]
over the coming months as well as my report to the G20 Leaders' meeting
in Pittsburgh in light of developments that had emerged from leaders'
meetings in L'Aquila and an informal meeting of ministers in New Delhi.
At the informal TNC meeting, after consultations led by Chairs in the
respective negotiations groups and my own consultations, we devised a
comprehensive and structured work programme for the next three months,
which included participation of senior officials each month (19 to 23
October; 23 to 27 November; and 14 to 16 December).
On that occasion many of you stressed that, as good as the work
programme may be, it would not be sufficient to lead to results without
the political engagement and hard bargaining that needs to take place
among the members. That engagement was needed at all levels,
multilaterally, plurilaterally and bilaterally.
My message to G20 leaders in Pittsburgh was that delegations in Geneva
had done what had been asked of them — the road had been mapped out, but
still needed to be walked. In my intervention, I pointed out to leaders
that there was a gap between what they said and where they were on the
questions of containing protectionism and concluding the Round. I urged
them to seriously address this “gap” problem and give negotiators clear
instructions that concluding the Round remained a priority for them, if
2010 was to be doable, which I think it is.
The Statement of the Leaders of the G20 re-affirmed their commitment to
seeking a conclusion to the DDA in 2010, consistent with the mandate and
based on the progress already achieved, including with regard to
modalities. They endorsed the work programme we developed and instructed
ministers to take stock of the situation no later than early next year,
taking into account the results we would have achieved by then. Leaders
pledged to remain engaged and review progress in the negotiations during
their next meeting.
Allow me also briefly to update you on my recent contacts with ministers
responsible for finance and development during the recent IMF-World Bank
annual meeting in Istanbul and report to you on the LDCs'
[least-developed countries'] trade ministers meeting in Dar-es-Salaam
from which I recently returned.
In Istanbul I stressed that international trade would be key to
recovery; that a successful conclusion of the Doha Round can yield a
double dividend: on the one hand, it can play the role of a global
stimulus package. On the other hand, it can effectively act as a
structural reform package. It is the most effective way of further
constraining protectionist pressures and contributing to growth. I also
stressed the importance of keeping an eye on trade finance and the need
to recapitalize regional development banks, given their role in helping
the poorest and weakest countries weather the crisis.
The message coming from the LDCs' Ministerial Meeting in Dar-es-Salaam
is one of urgency in concluding the Round and delivering on the
development promises it contains, many of which are of specific interest
to the poorest countries.
At the recent conference organized by the Coalition of Services
Industries in Washington I also had the opportunity to meet with a
number of ministers who signalled serious engagement reflecting their
leaders' commitments at the G20.
Next week I will be travelling to the African Trade Ministers meeting in
Cairo. I am convinced that this will be another important opportunity to
discuss the importance of keeping trade open and concluding the Doha
Round to Africa.
We are now one month into the work programme we devised collectively to
be able to reach a successful conclusion by 2010. I think it would be
fair to say that we have seen some progress in areas such as trade
facilitation, where members came well-prepared and worked hard on draft
textual proposals. I also think that we have seen serious engagement by
members on templates and scheduling in agriculture as well as NAMA
[non-agricultural market access].
A number of members have also engaged in some bilateral consultations.
But I also believe that it will be difficult to get to 2010 without a
serious acceleration of the pace. We need to see real negotiations
emerge, not only informal consultations and discussions, but real
exchanges among members. We need to do so in a manner which is inclusive
and leaves no interest behind. We need to ensure greater transparency
over bilateral discussions so that every member feels it is part of an
A number of senior officials are in Geneva this week and I think this is
an important factor in joining up the dots of the negotiation and
ensuring that capitals remain directly engaged in the process. But
whether through senior officials or through Geneva negotiators, the key
now is to walk the talk.
Let me mention in addition to chairs' consultations and small group
meetings taking place this week, I will also hold consultations on the
key issues of agriculture, NAMA and services together with the
respective chairs, in variable geometry, with a view to providing
members with avenues for engagement. I will also be meeting with a
number of senior officials and delegations which are in town this week.
I intend to hold a Green Room meeting on Thursday afternoon and a full
transparency session on Friday morning in the form of an Informal TNC to
ensure transparency and inclusiveness.
When this week is over, I hope we will have a better sense of the work
ahead of us in November, so that the next week of negotiations
benefiting from the presence of senior officials in Geneva in November
can register a qualitative change in the negotiating dynamics and
progress on substance.
Let me say a few words on the issue of monitoring of trade and
trade-related measures adopted by members in the context of the crisis.
As you know, we have been regularly providing you with updates on this
matter, the last one in July 2009 and a G20 specific one in September
2009. We are currently in the process of preparing the next report to
the TPRB [Trade Policy Review Body] with the Annual Overview of
Developments in the Trading System called for in the TPR mandate. I
intend to finalize this annual report in time for circulation ahead of
the Ministerial Conference, for which I believe it will be a useful
Let me also provide you with a brief update on my consultations on the
issues of GI [geographical indications] extension and the relationship
between the TRIPS [Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights] Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD],
which I hold under the mandate given to me at the Hong Kong Ministerial.
As foreshadowed at the July GC [General Council] meeting, I held another
round of consultations on 8 October with the same group of delegations,
but with a slight adaptation to the methodology. I invited delegations
to submit suggested draft questions on the two topics, that is on both
TRIPS/CBD and GI extension, which could help guide the discussions. We
received questions on both topics from all perspectives in the debate.
The questions have been ordered in clusters of issues. The 8 October
meeting addressed the first two clusters of each topic. In particular on
TRIPS-CBD, the discussion centred around the legal character of
misappropriation and the measures, other than the disclosure
requirement, to address misappropriation and benefit sharing. On GI
extension, the discussion centred on the differences between protection
under Article 22 and Article 23 as well as on the effects on higher
protection to additional products. The discussion was highly technical
and detailed. However, differences still remain on the substance. Hence
the main observations in my report to the General Council of 28 July
remain valid, as does the longer description of the state of play that I
made during the open-ended briefing on 27 July.
We are working on the schedule for the next round of consultations which
I will expect will move through the remaining clusters of the questions
that delegations have submitted.
Finally, I would like to briefly look ahead to the next 41 days before
the opening session of the WTO's 7th Ministerial Conference. I know that
the General Council Chairman will provide you with a comprehensive
overview of his recent consultations on various aspects of the
conference and I would like to thank him for his untiring efforts
towards ensuring that we have a constructive, efficient and transparent
This Ministerial Conference will be a different sort of gathering of
ministers compared to large-scale and week-long events that have taken
place since 1998. For a start, this ministerial meeting, as we
established a long time ago, is on a separate track from the on-going
Doha Round negotiations. In other words, this meeting is not a DDA
negotiating meeting. It is our hope that ministers will come to Geneva
to address and interact on a few key themes, regarding the WTO and the
multilateral trading system, the “big picture” so to say. It is time
that ministers are given the opportunity to engage in a more
wide-ranging systemic debate and to provide the WTO with guidance for
the next few years.
However, and there seems to be some confusion on this point, this does
not mean that ministers' statements or indeed their discussions cannot
address the issue of the Doha Round or indeed specific negotiations. On
the contrary, it would seem rather odd if the elephant in the room
remained nameless. This is why discussion of the Doha Round is
specifically foreseen in themes for the Working Sessions. And in this
specific context I think that the 7th Ministerial Conference represents
an important platform for ministers to send a strong signal of
commitment to concluding the Doha Development Round.
With 41 days and the clock ticking, I think it is high time we rolled up
our sleeves and get down to business.
That concludes my report today, Mr Chairman. Thank you.
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