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Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Let me start by welcoming today the participants to the WTO introductory
course for Least Developed Countries who have the opportunity to attend
this General Council meeting. I am pleased that this session provides
you the opportunity to gain an overall picture of the WTO's work, in
which the interests of the LDCs figure prominently.
Since my last report, the TNC [Trade Negotiations Committee] has held
one informal meeting on 24 July. The purpose of this meeting was to
discuss the situation and next steps in the Doha Development Agenda
negotiations. My remarks at that meeting were made available to
delegations in document JOB(09)/84. I am requesting that they be
included in the minutes of this General Council meeting. I will not
repeat all the details, but I would like to recall some of the points
that were made and build on the common threads that emerged in our
I provided delegations with an account of my recent contacts at
political level and the renewed impetus that leaders have given the DDA
with the call that the Round be concluded in 2010. I then set out an
overview of the state of play in each of the negotiating areas as well
as an insight into the road maps envisaged by Chairs of Negotiating
Groups in the weeks after the summer break.
Whether these are roadmaps, train timetables or GPS, to use the
terminology evoked last Friday, whether they start in Versoix, in Vevey
or in Carouge, what I heard from you on Friday is that all of them point
in one and the same direction: a conclusion of the Doha Round next year.
In the lengthy, and I believe productive, discussion, there was
unanimous agreement that if we are to get to our destination on time,
the renewed level of political re-engagement by leaders urgently
required translation into tangible progress in the negotiations.
There was also strong support for the process set out in the detailed
road maps and for the need for all participants to be ready to work
intensively in the autumn. The message was “all hands on deck”.
While the need to work at all levels, including the bilateral level, was
recognized, the primacy of the multilateral arena was stressed by
delegations. Various views were expressed about the possible impact of
bilaterals on the speed and transparency of multilateral
decision-making. But there was wide agreement that bilateral engagement
should be no reason for slowing or holding up the multilateral process;
the two have to move simultaneously. It was also noted that bilaterals
should not go on too long, and should be conducted with the maximum
The strong position was expressed that scheduling in agriculture and
NAMA [Non-Agricultural Market Access] would be the arrival point, to be
just followed by a verification process. Thus, there was strong support
for the “no surprises” principle, with regard not only to the scheduling
process in agriculture and NAMA, but also to other areas under the
There was also considerable discussion of the need to intensify and
advance work right across the scope of the negotiations. While
delegations recalled the sequencing established by Ministers at Hong
Kong, the need to arrive at an acceptable level of certainty in all
areas at the time of agreement on Agriculture and NAMA modalities was
also widely recognized. This pleads for a more horizontal process, using
our established pattern of working in concentric circles. This work
should be text-based as far as possible. To make such a process
effective, it will be important that delegations signal their “big
ticket” items but that they equally refrain from “hostage-taking”
Lastly, I should also mention that many delegations re-affirmed our
basic principles in those negotiations — multilateralism, development,
and a bottom- up, inclusive and transparent process. As TNC Chair and as
Director-General, I will do everything within my realm to uphold those
Let me now report to you on the open-ended meeting on GI [Geographical
Indications] extension and the relationship between the TRIPS
[Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] Agreement and
the CBD [Convention on Biological Diversity] which I held yesterday
afternoon under the mandate given to me at the Hong Kong Ministerial.
As required by this mandate, I have earlier reported to the TNC and the
General Council on past progress with this consultative process. Since
my last report to the General Council, I have been undertaking these
consultations personally, with four sessions taking place between March
and July. Yesterday, I convened an open-ended consultation for all
members and provided an extensive report on the work done so far.
Today's report will therefore be brief and cover the most recent
The consultations have concentrated on technical questions, with a view
to assisting members to understand more fully each other's interests and
concerns, and to shed light on the technical aspects of the two issues.
They have not focussed on questions of broad interest to WTO members,
such as whether, and if so how, these issues should be linked to the
broader negotiating agenda. This is a question which still, of course,
While the consultation process has not bridged the gaps that have long
defined debate on these issues, I believe the gaps are better defined.
Their contours are better illuminated. We are gradually understanding
more about the implications of different ways of bridging those gaps.
But we should be clear — members still do not agree on certain
procedural issues and the status of these two issues vis-à-vis the
overall work programme and negotiating package. Members also do not
agree on substantive questions. For instance, they continue to differ on
whether the scope of goods afforded higher protection under Article 23
should be extended, or not; and they differ on what specific action, if
any, is required to ensure that the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD are
While members differ on the need for GI extension, members do seem to
agree that using the trademark, sui generis legislation or other legal
means are legitimate ways of protecting GIs. The debate is more about
whether and how such systems can or should deliver on members'
Delegations also support the essential objectives and principles of the
CBD. Where they differ is on how to ensure that TRIPS and its
implementation effectively supports those objectives and principles.
Yesterday's open-ended consultations illustrated both these points of
convergence and the continuing areas of divergence. But from yesterday's
discussions, I was able to conclude that there continues to be support
among members for this method of continuing consultations, provided
there is adequate transparency for you all. I therefore undertook to
continue this process along the same lines, for the moment, while
ensuring transparency, including through reporting to the TNC and to
Also, in the light of requests from Members and in the interest of
transparency, I have agreed to make available the text of the informal
report that I delivered to members yesterday, subject to the very strong
caveat that it is only an informal impression of the process — the
lifeblood of such consultations is their informality and openness. Any
sense that these conversations would be reported or published in some
authoritative or comprehensive record would be completely
self-defeating. So I ask you to treat my report as background only — not
as formal, complete or definitive in any way.
I will be pursuing these consultations following the summer break with
the next meeting scheduled on 8 October.
In conclusion, our task now is to match political promise with
negotiating performance. It is less about “talk about the talk” and more
about “action”. It is less about “optimism or pessimism” and more about
As I said last week, we have come a long way, and we are not far from
our journey's end. The sense that we are entering the endgame needs to
become both widely shared and effective. I hope the holiday period will
offer you all the chance to not only refresh yourselves but also to
reflect and refocus, so that the autumn will indeed be a season of
That concludes my report today, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Report by the Director-General on the
Second Global Review of Aid for Trade
Thank you Chairman,
We held the second WTO Aid for Trade global review on 6-7 July. All our
key partners were represented at this conference at the highest level,
thereby reaffirming their continued support to this initiative even in
these difficult times.
The presence of the United Nations Secretary General, heads of
international organisations and ministers was a clear demonstration of
our collective resolve to collaborate to address the capacity challenges
facing developing countries.
Our assessment is that this conference was successful in taking stock of
overall progress achieved since the initiative was launched in 2005 and
also in highlighting the need for additional and substantive commitments
from donors, particularly at this juncture when developing countries are
facing even higher challenges as a result of the current global economic
The conference was also successful in stressing the leadership role now
played by many developing countries in articulating their priorities,
with the support of regional economic communities.
In terms of moving forward on the Aid for Trade agenda, a few key issues
were identified as priorities for our future work.
In the first place, the need to reinforce the regional dimension of Aid
for Trade. It is encouraging to see that our regional partners, the
regional development banks, regional economic commissions and regional
integration communities have reaffirmed their commitment to play a
leading role in this regard.
Secondly, the need to maintain momentum on commitments post 2010. To
this end, I have already begun making this point to all donors in my
interactions with them. I also raised this point in my interactions with
leaders at the recently concluded G8 summit in Italy and intend to
continue to do so in future bilateral contacts. I am happy to note that
at least at this juncture, I have not heard any donor declaring their
intention to scale down their Aid for Trade support. In fact, a number
of them have already indicated additional pledges to their 2005 figures
despite current budgetary constraints they are facing.
Thirdly, the conference was also unanimous on the need to enhance the
role of the private sector in this initiative. For my part, I will be
consulting extensively with private sector groups on this and I have
been assured by other Aid for Trade partners that they will be focussing
on ensuring that the private sector is fully engaged.
Lastly, the conference highlighted the need to focus our attention
towards evaluating the impact of aid for trade interventions in
developing countries. The rationale for this is very clear. For this
initiative to maintain the current level of political support, we need
to demonstrate clearly and convincingly that Aid for Trade is bearing
fruit on the ground and that the capacity to trade in developing
countries is effectively being enhanced. I have already begun consulting
with our partners to borrow from their experiences in evaluation.
In sum, the Second Global Aid for Trade Review provided us with a clear
roadmap of work on Aid for Trade under the leadership of the CTD
[Committee on Trade and Development].
Mr Chairman, the Aid for Trade initiative has the potential to make the
difference for developing countries' ability to realise the
developmental gains from a successful conclusion of the Doha Development
Agenda. For my part, I remain fully convinced that we are on the right
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