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Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Since the last meeting of the General Council, the TNC has held one informal meeting on 30 November. At that meeting, participants reviewed and assessed developments in the Doha Development Agenda, following the meetings of G20 and APEC Leaders and a second round of small group brainstorming meetings. My remarks at that meeting, including the overview of negotiating groups, were circulated to delegations in document JOB/TNC/6.
Participants welcomed the clear and strong political signals from Leaders to conclude the Doha Development Round. Recognising that 2011 was an important window of opportunity to achieve this goal, participants agreed that the onus is now on them to urgently translate these instructions into action and show the required flexibility, compromise and constructive attitude in the negotiations. In short, the time has arrived to move into real negotiating mode.
There was strong agreement that in line with our cocktail approach, every configuration and possibility for progress should be explored to the fullest. In particular, participants stressed that negotiating groups need to be at the heart of intensified efforts with Chairs taking a more pro-active role in accelerating work in the coming months.
Delegations endorsed the intensive work programme that the Chairs of Negotiating Groups and I proposed from the beginning of next year, advancing on all fronts of the negotiation at the same time. In light of the intensification of work, there was an understanding that in scheduling meetings we will approach our work in full accordance with the established principles and make every effort to ensure transparency and full participation.
A collective sense emerged that texts in all areas of the negotiation will have to be developed so that they could appear towards the end of the first quarter of 2011. The various texts will mature according to the individual rhythm of work in the negotiating groups. We all agree that they must emerge from a chair-driven bottom-up process. The onus being on participants take an active role and make the required contributions with which to move towards consensus.
There was also a general agreement that, at the right moment, a more global sense of what the final package would contain will need to be developed. Although some expressed the view that this process should start sooner rather than later, and others that it should start when there were texts, all participants agreed that the details of this process would become clearer in light of substantive progress in negotiating groups. There was also agreement on the greater involvement of Senior Officials as work intensify, and for the importance of Ambassadors remaining engaged, individually, in this intensified phases as they will be central to the push for a final deal. In sum, participants agree that we now have the right political signals, the technical expertise and the work programme. What is now needed is to translate these into a comprehensive deal that each of you can take back home.
In my remarks to the informal TNC on 30 November I outlined the intensive work programme for the various Negotiating Groups beginning the weeks of 10 and 17 January. Chairs are planning ahead to ensure that we hit the road running in early January. The NG Chairs have followed up with more detailed communications to assist in your planning here and in your capitals. In addition, they are working hard to look further ahead in their respective negotiating processes. All Members now have a clear picture of the meetings which will be held as from 10 January and the issues which will be addressed. In the same spirit of transparency I would like to give you advance notice that I will be convening an informal TNC on 2 February, preceded by a Green Room meeting on 26 January.
I call upon all delegations to ensure that your representatives, at whatever level, are mandated to negotiate. At this stage it is not enough to have answering machines around the table. We are at the point where we must have negotiators, and all negotiators have to be prepared to move out of their comfort zones towards agreement. There can no longer be any a priori red lines. All Members must be in a position to engage into substance on a “without prejudice” basis, under the single undertaking.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me also say that although we still have important challenges ahead of us, I sense a new energy and a determination among all participants to ensure that we grasp the narrow, but real opportunity to conclude the Round next year. As I said at the TNC, I genuinely sense that the final countdown has begun. It is up to everyone to make sure that it ends in a successful liftoff.
I turn now to the two TRIPS implementation issues on which I have held consultations in my capacity as Director General – namely, the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and on the issue of GI extension. I had earlier reported that the consultations so far had usefully illuminated the substantive features of these issues but had not touched on the questions of mandate and linkages between issues. The small group exercise has also usefully shed light, but again without precipitating a significant breakthrough.
I have always sought to respect the widespread concerns of Members that the consultation process should not run ahead of or lag behind the general pace of work. Following further informal consultations, I will reconvene a further round of consultations early in the new year. On TRIPS-CBD, we will focus on the patent disclosure aspects of the discussion about misappropriation of traditional knowledge and genetic resources. On GI extension, we will look at the adequacy of existing forms of protection of geographical indications for products other than wines and spirits. These consultations are facilitative only and will aim at clarifying substantive issues. They will be without prejudice to Member's position on the mandate and on linkages between the TRIPS related issues.
While speaking on my capacity as Director-General, let me briefly mention Aid for Trade, to announce that the Third Global Review will be hosted in Geneva on 18 and 19 July 2011. I look forward to working with all Members and stakeholders to shine a spotlight into impact and results of our Aid for Trade work.
This concludes my report, Mr. Chairman.
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