WTO: 2012 NEWS ITEMS

GENERAL COUNCIL

150pxls.gif (76 bytes)
MORE:

  

Since we last met in a similar format on 7 June, I attended the G-20 Leaders’ summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, and the Rio+20 summit and I will shortly report to you on my participation in these meetings. I have also met with a number of delegations here in Geneva including non-residents at the just concluded 24th session of the Geneva Week.

At the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, and in light of the dire situation of the world economy, I called for urgent collective action to redouble efforts to strengthen multilateral cooperation to find global solutions to our economic difficulties and risks in order to avoid further trade and investment tensions. I also stressed the importance of ensuring availability and affordability of trade finance, especially for poorer countries in the prevailing economic situation.

You will all have seen the G-20 Leaders’ Declaration and I do not intend to repeat all aspects of it. I will only highlight three points. 

First, not only did Leaders note the vulnerability of the global economy with the negative impact on the everyday lives of people, affecting jobs, trade, development and the environment, but they also agreed that multilateralism was of greater importance in the current climate and the best asset to resolve global economic difficulties.   

Second, concerned about the rising instances of protectionism, they extended their standstill commitment on measures affecting trade and investment until the end of 2014 and pledged to roll back any new protectionist measures.

Third, recognizing the role and relevance of regional and global value chains in fostering economic growth, employment and development, Leaders encouraged a deepening of discussions on such value chains, including their relationship with trade and investment flows, development and jobs and how to better measure trade flows and their impact across countries. As you know, the Secretariat, under the “Made in the World Initiative”, already started preliminary work in this area. In addition, the theme for our Fourth Global Aid for Trade Review in 2013 will be “Global Value Chains and Private Sector Development”. I would therefore encourage you all to engage in discussions on this important subject including in the CTD [Committee on Trade and Development] and its dedicated session on Aid for Trade. 

At the Rio+20 Summit, I highlighted the importance of coherence between trade, sustainable development and environmental policies. I noted that sustainable development had been and was at the heart of the WTO since its inception. I also stressed the importance of concluding the Doha Round, including on environmental issues as a further contribution of the WTO to a greener global economy. Lastly, I emphasized that whilst trade opening can support a green economy, the WTO also had to keep an eye on “green protectionism”. 

Turning to our work here in Geneva on the DDA [Doha Development Agenda], technical work has continued in the three areas of trade facilitation, special and differential treatment and DSU [Dispute Settlement Understanding] reform.

The trade facilitation negotiations are continuing to make progress, involving negotiations in the facilitator format and more intensive proponent-driven activities. In addition, the Chair is consulting informally, including at ambassadorial level, to help move the process along. At the Negotiating Group meeting of 9-13 July, members adopted several new texts and received new submissions that will be sent forward to the next round of facilitator activities. The Group also conducted what I believe was a very well attended and successful trade facilitation symposium, focusing on best practice and implementation issues. Negotiations following the same format will continue. The next Negotiating Group meeting is scheduled for the week of 8 October.

Preparations are also under way for a Trade Facilitation Conference for African countries in Nairobi in early November, which is being organized with the African Development Bank.

At its meeting last week, the Secretariat was requested to conduct a second round of its needs assessment exercise for developing countries and LDCs [least-developed countries], aiming to help these members, on request, to bring their national needs assessments up to date and help them to identify the resources that will be needed to meet those needs.      

On special and differential treatment, the Chair of the CTD Special Session is continuing with his text-based consultations in three areas of work: namely, the 28 Agreement-specific proposals in Annex C of the draft Cancún Ministerial Declaration, with a view to adopting them in the near future; on the elements of the Monitoring Mechanism; and on the six Agreement-specific proposals under active consideration of the CTD. I understand that these consultations have been interactive and constructive, and are progressing positively. 

On DSU reform, work has continued as planned in the negotiations. Meetings were held in June, and a further set of meetings is scheduled for the week of 16 July, focusing on timeframes, developing country interests and remand. This will hopefully complete the current phase of work and pave the way for the next stage as planned. The completion of this phase will allow the Chair and participants to take stock of the progress made and to map next steps.
   
On rules, although there have been no formal meetings of the Negotiating Group since February, a limited number of delegations have taken up the Chair's invitation issued at that meeting to consult with him bilaterally to express their views on the current situation and ways forward.  Little, if any, interest has been expressed in resuming negotiating activities in the short term. 

In agriculture, most delegations continue to feel that the 10 outstanding issues identified by the previous Chairs remain the key political issues that need to be resolved before agreement can be reached on agriculture modalities. The views expressed by members on issues that may be candidates for possible early harvest continue to indicate that there is no consensus on such issues at this stage.  The Chair has been informed, however, that some delegations are reflecting further and more specific proposals may be submitted after the summer break. The Chair will continue to consult with delegations on the way forward.
 
The Chair reported on the state of play of the agriculture and cotton negotiations during the 17th Round of Consultation on Cotton Development Assistance on 29 June. The Chair noted that while at MC8 [Eighth Ministerial Conference] members agreed that the mandate for an ambitious, expeditious and specific treatment of cotton in the agriculture negotiations has not changed, it had not yet been possible to reach any concrete outcome on cotton. The Chair will continue to encourage dialogue between all key cotton players to try and get a sense of how the commitments on cotton can be progressed.

On services, activity has increasingly focused on regular work. In this perspective, a services cluster was held during the week of 25 June, with meetings of the regular Council and its subsidiary bodies. I should also note that a group of members have continued their consultations aimed at committing themselves to further services liberalization.

On trade and environment, the Chair convened on 5 July an informal small group consultation with delegations to follow up on previous bilateral consultations and to further explore ideas and suggestions that could take the work of the CTESS [Committee on Trade and Environment Special Session] forward. The Chair will further consult delegations in the coming weeks.

Concerning the work of the TRIPS [Trade-related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] Special Session on a register for wine and spirit GIs [geographical indications], as indicated in my report of 1 May, the Chairman held bilateral consultations with several delegations, including with regional group coordinators, to see how best to operationalize those elements of the MC8 outcome that relate to the work of the Special Session. He is pursuing his series of consultations, in various formats, and will report in due time to the wider membership.

Finally, on NAMA [non-agricultural market access], since our last meeting, there is no activity to report except that in light of his imminent departure as Chairman of the Negotiating Group on Market Access, Luzius Wasescha will be circulating a report which he intends to introduce to the Negotiating Group at a meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
 
Let me also briefly touch upon the issue of LDC accessions. The approval next week of the streamlining of the 2002 LDCs accession guidelines will pave the way for a number of acceding LDCs, including Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, to mention but a few, to accelerate their accession processes. But before that, Laos and Yemen's accessions are very close to completion. Let me once again urge that efforts be redoubled to conclude the very few remaining outstanding steps to these important accessions.   

Finally, I will, of course, be reporting to the General Council at the end of this month, including on the challenges and opportunities that I believe will be facing us after the summer break.

RSS news feeds

Bookmark and Share

Problems viewing this page?
Please contact webmaster@wto.org giving details of the operating system and web browser you are using.

150pxls.gif (76 bytes)