WTO: 2009 NEWS ITEMS


More on the Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference
Negotiations, implementation and development: the Doha agenda
The Doha Declaration explained
The Implementation Decision explained
How the negotiations are organized
The Trade Negotiations Committee

I would like to welcome delegations to this meeting whose purpose is to provide a “wrap-up” to the Senior Officials' week and to share with you my assessment of this week's activities, including the Green Room that I held yesterday afternoon.

I met this morning with the Negotiating Chairs to briefly exchange views on their evaluation of the past week and the signals they had detected in their various meetings. We all agreed that this Senior Officials Week had been both a timely and useful exercise with the Ministerial Conference just around the corner.

Let me briefly provide you with my assessment of the activities in each of those areas that held consultations over the past five days.

In Agriculture, the Chair continued his consultations during this week, including a Room E meeting with Senior Officials yesterday. The outcome of these consultations is that on templates, Step 1 is moving towards initial outcomes with some outstanding issues to be taken up in the week of 7 December; at that time, Step 2 (drawing up the draft templates) will also be engaged. Separately, there will be a start to the verification process of some base data. On modalities, the Chair expects to consult on technical work in various issues, including the SSM [Special Safeguard Mechanism] and tariff simplification and expects to receive a report on ongoing work between delegations on tropical products and preference erosion. He will also look to engage with members on the work plan for the new year.

On NAMA [non-agricultural market access], there is a feeling that progress is being made on NTBs [non-tariff barriers], but that more technical work is required. The NTB proposals appear to be at different levels of maturity, with one or even a few almost ripe for a text-based discussion. On preference erosion, as in the past, there is a shared sense that this subject has to be handled with care. The sectoral negotiation remains a proponent-led process, with the proponents pursuing their number-based outreach activities. On the case-specific flexibilities, namely Argentina, South Africa and Venezuela, members appear open to further discussion. A NAMA week has been scheduled for the week of 7 December. NTBs will again be the main focus of attention. The Chair has called for updated texts as well as for submissions of any outstanding proposals by that date.

On Services, the discussions this time round focused on the rule-making negotiations in services and the implementation of LDC [least-developed countries] modalities. On rule-making, namely, Domestic Regulation, Emergency Safeguard Measures, Subsidies and Government Procurement, there was a sense of good engagement among Senior Officials and Heads of Delegations. There was recognition that, as expected, Domestic Regulation is at a much more advanced stage than the other three subjects. In the Working Party, negotiations have been taking place on the basis of a revised draft text presented by the Chairperson. Of course, the text will be subject to subsequent revisions in the light of future progress. There are still, however, divergences that need to be resolved. On the other three areas, more intensive work is needed to clarify the way forward.

On the implementation of LDC modalities, the discussions focused on a proposed text for a waiver allowing members, notwithstanding the MFN [most-favoured nation] obligation, to extend preferential treatment to services and service suppliers of LDCs. Fernando will be convening another Enchilada meeting in the week of 14 December when senior officials return to Geneva.

On Rules, the Negotiating Group met in an open-ended informal format with the participation of senior officials and heads of delegation. The Chair provided an overview of the evolution of the negotiations, the state of play, and the process he envisioned going forward. On AD [anti-dumping] and CVD [countervailing duties] he observed that there had been no further convergence on the big political issues over the past year, and that participants would not negotiate compromises until the overall direction of the Round became clearer. On fisheries subsidies, the Chair envisioned completing the roadmap discussions in December, beginning the consideration of alternative proposals by participants, and considering various issues such as specificity. On RTAs [Regional Trade Agreements], the Chair proposed to consult the Chair of the CRTA [Committee on Regional Trade Agreements] to see the extent to which the work of the CRTA, specifically a work programme on topics suggested by members, could feed further discussions in the Negotiating Group.

The Chair plans to advance the Group's work by holding a series of technical meetings in December.

On TRIPS [trade-related intellectual property rights] Special Session, the Chair held a formal meeting this morning where he presented his report in document TN/IP/19 containing an assessment of the status of the issues. The report identifies areas of emerging convergence and potential compromise in the key areas of the negotiation, namely legal effects and participation. To guide future work, the report sets out five Guiding Principles that are intended to focus the future negotiations on the gateway issues. Members appreciated the Chair's balanced reflection of members' positions and, although they did not see all their concerns reflected in the report, they accepted the Chair's constructive suggestions as a basis for future work.

As you all know, Amb. Clarke is stepping down as chair of the Special Session after the Ministerial Conference to take up a senior appointment in WIPO. We thank Trevor wholeheartedly for his patience and his creative efforts in this difficult task and wish him well with his new responsibilities.

On Environment, consultations by the CTESS [Committee on Trade and Environment — Special Session] Chair showed overall strong support for moving forward on all parts of the mandate pursuant to the Work Programme and the timeframes contained therein. On the issue of the relationship between the WTO and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), participants generally agreed that the proposals on the table provided a good basis to develop a text for negotiation.

As regards the work on Environmental Goods, the Chair emphasized the need for broad-based engagement and substantive inputs from members, both on environmental goods of interest and cross-cutting issues, in the lead-up to the February meeting. It was further noted that linkages with other areas of the negotiations should not prevent the work from moving ahead. Several senior officials observed that the work in the environmental pillar should achieve a level of clarity and predictability by the time that an agreement is reached on Agriculture and NAMA modalities.

The overall assessment of work undertaken since September shows that progress has been made on a range of technical issues across the board, even if for the moment we have not seen closing gaps in so-called “big ticket items”, which will need to be accelerated. The sense that I got from my consultations is that you very much want to keep the negotiating machine moving, including with the regular involvement of Senior Officials.

With respect to the next steps, I also get the sense that you are willing to build on progress made to date and to build on the current level of ambition across the board. The Delhi work programme will come to an end with the Senior Officials Week beginning on 14 December and there is a general feeling that it would be useful to also use that week to discuss the further process, including collectively taking stock during the first quarter of next year whether the 2010 deadline remains achievable.

With respect to MC7, the general assessment was that Ministers were coming to Geneva to review and provide guidance on the WTO and the multilateral trading system. I believe it would also be useful to get their guidance as to how they see engagement in the Doha negotiations post-December, so that this could inform the December Senior Officials week.

I hope this relatively detailed overview of this week's activities is helpful to delegations as they prepare to receive their ministers over the weekend. As I said on Monday, we all have an interest in approaching next week's meeting in a constructive and positive manner and I hope that by applying the General Council Chairman's principle of Full Participation, Inclusiveness and Transparency we have set the tone for the ministerial gathering.

I would now like to pass the floor to the General Council Chair for a few practical announcements.

Finally, since this will be our last meeting before the Opening of the Ministerial, if any delegation has any question or observation to make regarding MC7, both Mario and myself will be happy to address them.

The floor is open.

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