WTO: 2010 NEWS ITEMS

Summary of General Council meeting

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The Doha Declaration explained
The Implementation Decision explained
How the negotiations are organized

Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

Thank you Mr Chairman.

Since my last report to the General Council in February members, of course, met for a week at the end of March to take stock of where we are in the context of the Doha Development Agenda. I do not intend to reiterate what was said during the TNC [Trade Negotiations Committee] meeting other than to repeat that I found the exercise both useful and constructive, particularly as it clearly demonstrated that nobody is contemplating dropping the ball. Everyone remains very much committed to the mandate of the Round and to its successful conclusion. That was the spirit which I saw during the stocktaking exercise and I think the message that went out to the world reflected this.

The multilateral stocktaking exercise has also provided a very useful input to the contacts which are continuing among members, including at ministerial level. I have taken part in a number of such meetings and have also been able to follow up on a bilateral and plurilateral basis.

As you know, I have recently attended the 35th Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting, in Punta del Este, Uruguay. I also had the opportunity to meet with a number of colleagues in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. At the end of April I also participated in the Spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, where I took advantage of the presence of a number of ministers to argue in favour of sustaining our efforts on Aid for Trade. The agreement reached to recapitalise the World Bank as well as progress made in recapitalising Regional Development Banks is certainly a positive step in that direction.

My principal impression from all of these contacts and meetings reinforced the commitment and determination expressed by members in this room at the end of March. I also found that ministers were well-informed and up-to-date on the latest state-of-play from Geneva — something I believe is of crucial importance for our further process. Everyone I have met has reinforced the need to maintain the centrality of the multilateral dimension of the negotiations, to build on what is already on the table in the form of Chairs' texts and to keep development as central to the outcome of the Round.

In terms of process, since the stocktaking we have begun implementing the so-called “cocktail approach”. Ingredient number one: the Chairs of the different negotiating groups have either already begun their consultations or have scheduled meetings over the coming weeks. They are ready to foster a discussion among members respecting the rhythm of work and maturity of individual issues. But they will not be able to work out of thin air and they will need your input and contributions.

Ingredient number two: members have started meeting among themselves in a variety of formats and configurations, on specific areas, as well as on a horizontal level. These are still very preliminary contacts. It is now important that these discussions move into specifics so that some “give and take” can take place. This will not happen overnight and I am sure they need to be given adequate time and space. Of course, in due time, we all expect to hear more about these initiatives in the interest of transparency and inclusiveness.

Third ingredient, I am also starting my own consultations with delegations in various formats to explore the horizontal stage of the negotiations. To maintain an overview of the entire negotiating landscape, I intend to hold more frequent meetings with groups, in order to ensure that all voices are heard and the principles of transparency and inclusiveness are fully respected.

Now, Mr Chairman, let me turn to a brief overview of the individual negotiating areas.

Agriculture

The negotiations in agriculture continue on two tracks, templates and on the bracketed or otherwise annotated issues in the draft modalities. On templates, and on the associated work on base data, Step 2 has been engaged to draw up drafts of the actual proposed formats for the scheduling process. An informal open-ended meeting was held yesterday on this exercise; it will continue in the week of 17 May. Members are actively involved. On modalities, the Chair will continue his consultations in the week of 17 May, including, of course the SSM [Special Safeguard Mechanism].

NAMA [non-agricultural market access]

The next NAMA week is scheduled for the week of 17 May. The focus during that week will be on NTBs [non-tariff barriers]. The Chairman has also requested that any input for that week's discussion be submitted before 7 May in order to provide adequate time for all delegations to come prepared.

Services

Since the stocktaking exercise, an informal open-ended Special Session was held, on 20 April, to begin a detailed examination of the draft text for the LDC [least-developed countries] Waiver. A productive exchange of views took place on the draft, with a moderate momentum to the discussion. During the week of 26 April, the main services negotiating groups — the Special Session, the Working Party on Domestic Regulation and the Working Party on GATS [General Agreement on Trade in Services] Rules — met formally, to continue their technical discussions. The next negotiating meetings in services are set to take place during the week of 28 June.

Trade facilitation

On trade facilitation, members are preparing for the upcoming negotiating cluster scheduled to begin at the end of this month (31 May — 4 June). Several exchanges are taking place amongst delegations in a variety of formats and configurations. The Draft Consolidated Negotiating Text has been revised to reflect the outcome of the last session of the Group. It will be the basis of further negotiations at the May meeting.

Special and differential treatment

On special and differential treatment, work in the Special Session has focused on fine tuning elements of the Monitoring Mechanism. Largely undertaken in the small group format, the work has been carried out on the basis of the Chairman's non-paper of 3 November 2009. Some progress has been made, albeit slow, on elements of the Monitoring Mechanism. However, there are still a number of areas where members continue to have divergent views, including on their perception of the mandate under which this Mechanism is being established, as well as the whole 'sequencing issue'. Clearly, members will need to further focus and intensify their efforts in order to reach convergence on the different elements of the Monitoring Mechanism.

In the coming weeks the Chairman of the CTD [Committee on Trade and Development] Special Session intends to revise his non-paper on the Monitoring Mechanism, so as to capture the progress made so far. This non-paper will then form the basis of future work. The Chair also intends to take up the Agreement-specific proposals in these meetings as well as continue his contact with the Chairs of other WTO bodies to expedite progress on Category II proposals.

Environment

The CTE [Committee on Trade and Environment] Special Session is tentatively scheduled to meet at the end of June. Further to his report in TN/TE/19, the Chair will hold discussions under Paragraph 31(i) focusing on the five clusters of issues identified in the report with the objective of achieving more clarity and specificity in terms of language. With respect to Paragraph 31(iii), members will need to review the proposals on the table put forward under the work programme. It is hoped that by the time of the next CTESS [Committee on Trade and Environment Special Session] meeting, there will be new outcome-specific proposals for members to consider, in particular as regards the universe of environmental goods of interest.

Dispute settlement

As announced at the stocktaking in March, the Chairman of the DSB [Dispute Settlement Body] Special Session intends to start a more intensive process, in which it will be necessary for delegations to engage on the basis of the comments received in the previous phase. Over the coming months, he will conduct the work around group meetings in variable geometry depending on the subject to be discussed. The first week of negotiations in this more intensive phase of the DSU [Dispute Settlement Understanding] negotiations is scheduled for the week of 17 May.

TRIPS [Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights]

With respect to TRIPS Special Session, Ambassador Darlington Mwape circulated a report to the TNC for the purposes of the stocktaking exercise. As indicated in this report, the Chairman will hold a formal meeting of the Special Session on 10 June. He will consult delegations in the week of 31 May-4 June to prepare for the formal meeting.

Finally, turning to the two TRIPS issues, as you are aware, I have been mandated by paragraph 39 of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration to pursue consultations as Director-General, and not as Chair of the TNC, on the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity and on the extension of Article 23 GI [geographical indications] protection. Pursuant to my report at the 22 March meeting of the General Council, I am consulting with Members as to the best way forward.

In sum, we have the blender, we know which are the ingredients, it is just about time we start shaking them to be able to serve the cocktail before the ice melts!

[At the end of the meeting]

Rules

This morning I got so carried away with the preparation of the cocktail that I forgot to mention the state-of-play in the Rules area. You have all been kind enough not to notice it, probably because like me, you have been the victim of this Freudian slip which is that life of the Rules negotiations goes on but our friend Guillermo leaves us. That is probably what has generated this confusion in my mind.

As we all know Guillermo has had to deal with extremely tough issues and has spent quite a lot of time trying to adjust, and convince as all Chairs have to do. For instance, he had to argue that zero was not one, but no zero was zero. He had to argue that fisheries subsidies don’t need to produce more fish, but less fish. He also had to argue that substantially all trade is of course all trade, but not exactly all trade. He made his best efforts to convince us that below-cost financing may sometimes be above-average cost financing. These are a few issues which he has been playing with. Of course a number of these issues are left to his successor.

Let us conclude that Guillermo has no default. He may recognize at the extreme borderline that he may have a few non-qualities but he will, I am sure leave it there. Above all, he is a friend, a personal friend, a friend of the organization, and a friend of the system. Not surprisingly given his nationality we all know good friends may leave physically but they remain with us and I am sure like a number of his illustrious Uruguayan predecessors they will remain with us. Our doors will be open to you as they are open to them, and we know full well that there is a huge reservoir of wisdom, and experience which for sure we will use for the future. So in my name, and in the name of the Secretariat, Guillermo, best of luck!

 

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