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> The Trade Negotiations Committee
Thank you all for coming to this meeting.
As I foreshadowed at Tuesday's General Council, and in the fax I sent
out to delegations convening this meeting, I think it is useful for us
today to review what has happened in this week in light of renewed
activity in Geneva following the work programme we adopted a month ago.
I also think it useful that we discuss the next steps in our work for
November, so that the week of negotiations benefiting from the presence
of Senior Officials — 23-27 November, can register a qualitative change
in the negotiating dynamics and progress on substance.
As I indicated in my statement to the General Council which was
circulated to delegations in document JOB(09)/143, in addition to
Chairs' consultations and small group meetings that have been taking
place during this week, I also held 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. In addition, I held a Green Room meeting yesterday afternoon
and I will be reporting to you shortly on these consultations.
Let me now briefly review each area of the negotiations in turn,
starting with the areas I held consultations on this past Wednesday.
First, Agriculture. As has become clear during the course of this
week, work in agriculture is proceeding smoothly and with the full of
support of Members on a two-track approach. One track, template work, is
advancing with contributions from many Members. Step 1 of this template
work concerns the identification of base data and appropriate tables;
this Step is expected to conclude soon with work to start in November on
Step 2, namely the preparation of the templates to be used for
The other track of work in agriculture is the Chair's informal
consultations on the bracketed and otherwise annotated issues in the
draft modalities and associated documentation. There have been
discussions on domestic support and market access issues, including
useful work on sensitive products, tariff cap, TRQ expansion and tariff
simplification. In November these consultations will broach the S&D
issues in the modalities — SSM, special products, tropical products,
preference erosion - with then the opportunity in December to return to
some of the matters.
My sense from consultations which have taken place this week is that
there is a collective endeavour to not lowering the current level of
ambition in agriculture.
In sum, the work in agriculture is re-engaged, has the support of
Members and is moving forward. I strongly encourage you to continue in
this vein, knowing that all issues need to be resolved to conclude these
Turning now to NAMA, my consultations this week have focussed on
how to move forward the NTB negotiation. You will recall that during the
year, the Negotiating Group has been discussing the various NTB textual
proposals through a process of questions and answers. This exchange has
contributed to a better understanding and clarification of the different
proposals. However, there still remains a lot of work to be done. This
is what has emerged from the consultations I held. There are proposals
that are more mature than others, there are texts which relate to the
same sector and where marrying them might be necessary, and finally
there are still proposals that remain to be developed into legal texts.
Concerning next steps, there is a NAMA week beginning on 2 November,
during which some NTB proposals will be discussed in an open-ended
meeting. Following this meeting, the Chair intends to hold consultations
in different formats on the various proposals with a view to making
progress on them. So, as mentioned earlier, much technical work remains
to be done on this complex area of the NAMA negotiation and negotiators
now have to work on developing language.
On Services, the purpose of my consultations was to clarify the
way ahead and how best to proceed with these negotiations at this stage.
The focus was mainly on the market access pillar but also briefly
touched upon the rule-making side as well as the implementation of LDC
It was stressed that the services negotiations cannot be separated from
the rest of the DDA and that as we progress on Agriculture and NAMA, we
need to have commensurate clarity on services. There was also the
general sense that while some time had passed since the Signalling
Conference of July 2008, and while recognizing that those signals were
conditional, there were no intentions of back-tracking. While it was
recognized that more clarity should be pursued by bilateral and
plurilateral meetings, it was also understood that whatever comes out of
such efforts, should not be labelled as “final offers”.
On the rule-making part, there was a general feeling that work should be
intensified on domestic regulation, and that senior officials should pay
more attention to the rule-making agenda within services, focusing on
text based negotiations. The week of 9 November has been designated as a
“services week” to pursue desired levels of comfort on all areas of the
services negotiations including the implementation of LDC modalities,
which have reached a stage of preparation allowing involvement of a
larger number of Members.
Let me also take the opportunity if this meeting to briefly detail work
in other negotiating areas which has taken place over the last weeks.
In the Rules area, work has proceeded in accordance with the
Group's work programme. The Group held a two-week cluster from 16-25
September, and another cluster is scheduled for next week. On
anti-dumping and subsidies, the Group continues to review the Chair's
text of December 2008, including bracketed, un-bracketed and unaddressed
issues, a process which should be completed early next year. On
fisheries subsidies, the Group expects to complete discussion of the
Roadmap, and to begin consideration of new proposals as requested by
various delegations, by December. The group has a full rules cluster
next week where delegations will have a further opportunity to engage.
On regional trade agreements (RTAs), the Chair is consulting informally
with Members on how to advance in various questions relating both to the
transparency of RTAs and systemic issues.
Concerning the negotiations on the register of GIs for wine and
spirits, the Chair held consultations with a small group of
delegations on 18 September during the first SOM week when he proposed a
work programme for the coming months. With regard to methodology, he
indicated that his aim would be to move from exchanges on the different
positions currently on the table, towards a focused substantive
discussion based on a list of four questions suggested by himself, which
would in turn evolve into some “Chair's papers”.
An open-ended informal meeting was held on 2 October for transparency
purposes and also to consult with delegations on how to organize the
work in October and November. He indicated his intention to present a
short handover report, updating the technical areas already addressed in
his predecessor's report (TN/IP/18 of June 2008) with some indications
as to moving towards solutions. At that informal meeting the Chair
indicated that he would hold a formal meeting this afternoon, to
continue on 28 October afternoon, in order to undertake substantive
discussion on the Chair's list of four questions. Another formal session
is scheduled for 25 November 2009.
On Trade and Environment, the CTESS held a Workshop on
Environmental Goods and Services at the end of September with the
participation of experts from governments, the private sector and other
international organizations. The workshop provided an opportunity for
in‑depth examination of the different environmental goods sectors, with
a particular focus on relevant goods and technologies, their
environmental benefits, and the market drivers and trade barriers faced
in these sectors. The workshop also addressed some development-related
aspects of the mandate, including the issue of technology transfer.
These discussions should provide a useful basis for delegations to
engage in the next phase under the Paragraph 31(iii) work programme, in
which Members have been invited by the Chair to identify environmental
goods of interest. Consultations on this issue, as well as on other
parts of the negotiating mandate will be held in the lead-up to the next
CTESS meeting scheduled in November.
In the area of Trade Facilitation, the new agreement is taking
shape. In line with the work programme, the Negotiating Group has
successfully completed the first part of its task of producing a
consolidated negotiating text. This text covers GATT Articles V
(transit) and X (transparency), and work has started on the task of
consolidating the text on Special and Differential Treatment. At Group's
next meeting in November, the intention is to consolidate the
negotiating text on GATT Article VIII (fees and formalities), on customs
cooperation and on cross-cutting issues in the new Agreement, and to
complete the job of producing consolidated negotiating text on Special
and Differential treatment.
All Members have contributed constructively to this exercise. The Chair
has expressed confidence that the Group will succeed in meeting its
target of producing a draft consolidated negotiating text on Trade
Facilitation after its next meeting on the week of 9 November.
The next and final stage will involve negotiations to narrow down the
differences in positions that are currently reflected in the text so as
to arrive at a consensus agreement.
On the negotiations on Special and Differential Treatment,
text-based discussions on the Monitoring Mechanism have been continuing
on the basis of the Chairs non paper. I am pleased to hear that Members
have been able to make some progress and further fine tuned some of the
elements contained therein. As a result, the Chairman is in the process
of revising his non paper, which will form the basis for continued
discussions on the Monitoring Mechanism. This work will continue in the
small group format, with open ended meetings being held as and when
necessary, to brief the wider Membership of any developments as well as
to give them an opportunity to feed into the process.
Let me also mention the DSU negotiations, although they are not
part of the Single Undertaking. In the week of 12 October, the Chairman
of the DSB Special Sessions held a series of consultations to discuss
selected issues covered in the Chairman's text of July 2008, which is
the basis for the current work. These consultations covered proposals
relating to transparency, amicus curiae briefs, remand, and flexibility
and Member-control. This was followed by an informal open-ended meeting
of the Special Session to report on the consultations to the entire
Membership. A further series of consultations is scheduled for the week
of 9 November. These consultations will address sequencing,
post-retaliation, special and differential treatment, including
compliance-related aspects, and timeframes. With these consultations,
all the proposals covered in the Chairman's text will have been
discussed this year. The Chairman's intention remains to work towards
revised text as soon as possible.
Let me now briefly report to you on the Green Room meeting I held
yesterday afternoon. In essence, the meeting focused on taking stock of
the various activities and meetings that had taken place this past week,
including my consultations, and on the next steps in the process leading
to the third week of November where Senior Officials will come to Geneva
again. The meeting also heard reports from a number of delegations
regarding the bilateral and plurilateral processes they had been
My general impression of the past week has seen useful engagement in
focused and constructive discussions. There has been no backsliding on
the level of ambition. But at the same time, we have not yet seen
tangible progress in the negotiations and, overall, I would say that the
current speed with which we are advancing is too slow to arrive at
modalities latest by early next year as we need to do to be in a
position to wrap this Round next year. This is the reality.
The key now is not process, but rather what happens in the negotiations.
Specifically, we now need to engage in text based negotiations to bridge
gaps, particularly on Agriculture and NAMA which still remain key to
these negotiations, but also on services and on the rest of the topics
on our agenda. This is the only way these negotiations can bear fruit.
I will, as usual, continue working closely with the Negotiating Group
Chairs and the General Council Chairman to help you getting to grips
with the substantive issues which remain open. I will also continue to
consult regularly with you, in various configurations to prepare the
next SOM meeting in November. The focus remains, as it should be, on the
multilateral process, which will continue in all areas of the
negotiations in the spirit with which we have worked up to now — a
step-by-step and bottom-up approach with full respect for inclusiveness
The November SOMs week needs to be carefully prepared so that it results
in progress which the Ministerial Meeting could take stock of. It has to
be a negotiating session, not a discussion session, and we have to
prepare for it collectively!
This concludes my report today. For transparency purposes I suggest that
Members who have taken the initiative of holding bilateral and
plurilateral discussions during this week also report on their
The floor is open.
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