WTO: 2011 NEWS ITEMS

GENERAL COUNCIL

Summary of General Council meeting of 3 May 2011

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MINUTES:

1. Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

The Director-General, as Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) said that since the previous meeting of the General Council, the TNC had met on three occasions, the last of which had been on 29 April after the circulation of the 21 April package. At that meeting, he had emphasized the gravity of the situation for the Doha Round and for all the aspirations it embodied, as well as the collective responsibility for the system as a whole. A number of points had emerged: (i) Members were aware of the grave risk of the impasse, for both the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and the system as a whole; (ii) no Member was ready to throw in the towel in terms of what had been achieved, nor to let the DDA drift; (iii) a new approach, beyond “business-as usual” was required that should lead to results in 2011; and (iv) a number of different ideas were being floated, which needed further discussion. After a series of consultations to be held in May, a TNC meeting was scheduled for 31 May.

2. Work Programme on Small Economies

The Chairman of the Dedicated Session of the Committee on Trade and Development reported on various recent proposals that had been made by small and vulnerable economies (SVEs) in several negotiating groups, including Agriculture, where SVEs had made two proposals, Non-agricultural market access (NAMA), Fisheries subsidies, Trade and environment and Services. The delegation of Barbados (on behalf of SVEs) provided additional details on the proposals and also stressed that the SVEs were working on a proposal related to an Aid for Trade framework for SVEs, focusing mainly on promoting effective mainstreaming of trade into national development strategies.

3. Committee on Budget, Finance And Administration — Report on meeting of March 2011

The Chairman of the Budget, Finance and Administration (BFA) Committee, reporting on the issues taken up by the Committee at its meeting in March, stressed that the funding situation of the DDA Global Trust Fund had started to be of concern. Also, he recalled that the Committee had examined the Secretariat’s second annual report on diversity. The Committee had also reviewed the situation concerning Members in arrears and recommended that, following the acceptance of payment plans, the General Council agree to suspend the administrative measures for two Members. In the discussion, the importance of diversity in the WTO Secretariat was highlighted.

4. Waivers under Article IX of the WTO Agreement

(a)    Cape Verde — Implementation of Article VII of GATT 1994 and of the Agreement on Customs Valuation (G/C/W/646/Rev.1) — Draft Decision
  
Following a report by the Chairman of the Goods Council on the Council’s consideration of the matter, the General Council adopted the Draft Decision forwarded by the Goods Council granting a waiver to Cape Verde concerning the date of implementation of its obligations in the area of Customs Valuation.

(b)    European Union — Request for a waiver on additional autonomous trade preferences granted by the European Union to Pakistan (G/C/W/640) — Statement by the Chairman of the Council for Trade in Goods

The Chairman of the Goods Council, in accordance with Article IX:3 of the WTO Agreement, reported on the consideration by that Council of the EU’s request for a waiver from its obligations under paragraph 1 of Article I and under Article XIII of the GATT 1994 to afford duty-free or other preferential tariff treatment to certain products originating in Pakistan. The EU was carrying out a process of consultations and the Goods Council had therefore not concluded the consideration of this matter within the 90 days stipulated in the WTO Agreement. The General Council agreed to allow the Goods Council to continue its work and to report back to the General Council once this had been completed.

5. WTO Pension Plan Management Board — Election of Chairman, Members and Alternates — Proposal by the Chairman of the General Council

The General Council elected the Chairman, four Members and four Alternates to the Management Board of the WTO Pension Plan, as proposed by the GC Chairman in document WT/GC/W/632.
  

Under “Other Business”

6. Statement by the Chairman on the Accession of Vanuatu

A report was provided on Vanuatu’s accession process, in particular related to the technical update of Vanuatu’s accession package since 2008.  The re-convened Working Party had adopted the Accession package (WT/ACC/VUT/16 and Add.1 and 2) ad referendum at its meeting on 2 May 2011.

The Minister of Trade, Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Vanuatu, H.E. Sela Molisa, expressed his Government’s appreciation for what was defined as an historic moment for the country. Vanuatu also appreciated the position of WTO Members in the Working Party that its accession was considered as a positive “deliverable” to the upcoming Fourth United Nations Conference on Least-developed Countries. The Chairman announced that the accession of Vanuatu would be formally adopted at a meeting of the General Council to be convened in the near future.

7. Statement by the Chairman on consultations on the Eighth Ministerial Conference

The Chairman recalled that his predecessor had started consultations on the Eighth Ministerial Conference, in which convergence had emerged on some points: (i) the “FIT” principle would continue to be applied; (ii) the Conference would be organized around a Plenary Session in which all Ministers could speak; (iii) the Conference would be, like the previous one, a lean and economical event. He announced that he would shortly start consultations with delegations in different formats on both the practical aspects of the Conference and its substantive agenda.

8. Statement by the Chairman on the Chairmanship of the Working Party on the Accession of the Bahamas

The Chairman stated that, following consultations and in line with usual practice, it had been agreed that Amb. Wayne McCook (Jamaica) would serve as Chairman of the Working Party.

9. Administrative Measures for Members in arrears

The Chair of the Budget Committee informed the Council that there were five Members in Category II, two in Category III and seven in Category IV.

The next regular meeting of the General Council is scheduled for 27-28 July 2011.

 

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