WTO: 2012 NEWS ITEMS

GENERAL COUNCIL

Summary of General Council meeting of 11 December 2012

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MINUTES:

1. Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

The Director-General reported on the Trade Negotiations Committee meeting held on 7 December. His statement is available here.

2. Work Programme on Small Economies — Report by the Chairman of the Dedicated Session of the Committee on Trade and Development

The Chair of the General Council, on behalf of the Chair of the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD), reported on the formal meeting of the Dedicated Session on Small, Vulnerable Economies which was held on 19 November. At that meeting, it was said that further, more specialized work on non-tariff measures should now be conducted.

3. The development assistance aspects of cotton — Periodic Report by the Director-General

The Director-General introduced his Fifth Periodic Report in WT/GC/149WT/CFMC/DG/5. He highlighted the positive results registered in the area of “Cotton-Specific Development Assistance” as well as in the framework of the broader “Agriculture and Infrastructure-Related Development Assistance”. A number of delegations took the floor to express appreciation for the report and to highlight some co-operation programmes in the area of cotton.

4. Aid for Trade — Preparations for the Fourth Global Review — Statement by the Director-General

The Director-General provided an overview of the preparations for the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade to take place on 8-10 July 2013. In particular, he highlighted the monitoring exercise, based on questionnaires, including sector-specific ones, which would underpin this Review.

5. Work Programme on Electronic Commerce — Review of Progress

Deputy Director-General Singh provided an overview of the work taking place in the Goods and Services Councils as well as the CTD on the work programme on e-commerce.

6. Ukraine’s Article XXVIII notification — Statements by ASEAN, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Egypt, European Union, Guatemala, Hong Kong China, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Paraguay, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States

The delegations that took the floor, some of them speaking on behalf of WTO Groups, expressed concerns about Ukraine’s notification to modify its schedule of tariff concessions under GATT Art. XXVIII. Ukraine called on members to work together on this issue.

7. Ninth Session of the Ministerial Conference — Statement by the Chair

The General Council agreed on the dates for the Ninth Ministerial Conference (MC9) to take place in Bali, Indonesia: 3-6 December 2013. The General Council also took note of the following principles to guide both the preparations for MC9 and the Conference itself: (i) the “FIT” principle — Full participation, Inclusiveness, and Transparency; (ii) any issue for action or decision by Ministers proposed by members should be developed by them in line with the normal consensus principle; (iii) issues for action or decision by Ministers should be agreed well before MC9.

8. WTO Accessions — 2012 Annual Report by the Director-General — Statement by the Director-General

The Director-General introduced his report on accessions contained in WT/ACC/19. He highlighted the progress made in 2012, with four new members joining the WTO and two completed accessions. He also stressed that work did not stop with accession, and that it had to continue with the implementation of the commitments made. Several delegations welcomed the report.

9. Improving the Guidelines for Granting Intergovernmental Organizations Permanent Observer Status in the WTO — Statement by the Chair

The General Council Chair reported that there was no change in positions previously expressed and that she would continue her consultations. Some delegations said that this was a systemic issue and hoped that a solution could be found.

10. Review under Paragraph 8 of the Decision on the Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS [Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property] Agreement and Public Health — Report of the Council for TRIPS

The Chairman of the TRIPS Council reported on its annual review on the functioning of the system set out in the Decision on the Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.

11. Waivers under Article IX of the WTO Agreement

The General Council adopted four waivers: (i) Introduction of Harmonized System 2002 changes into WTO Schedules of Tariff Concessions; (ii) Introduction of Harmonized System 2007 changes into WTO Schedules of Tariff Concessions; (iii) Introduction of Harmonized System 2012 changes into WTO Schedules of Tariff Concessions; (iv) Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds — Extension of Waiver. The Council also conducted the review of five waivers pursuant to Article IX:4 of the WTO Agreement.

12. Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration — Reports on meetings of October and November 2012

The Chairman of the Budget Committee introduced the Committee’s reports on its meetings in October and November 2012 (WTO/BFA/133 and 134, respectively). The Council approved the specific recommendations contained therein. The Director-General provided an overview of various efforts to further increase efficiency on documentation, scheduling and management of meetings.

13. International Trade Centre, UNCTAD/WTO — Report of the Joint Advisory Group on its Forty-sixth Session

Following a report on the CTD’s consideration and action on this matter, the Council adopted the Joint Advisory Group report.

14. Review of WTO Activities

The General Council conducted its annual review of WTO activities, in line with the Decision concerning procedures for an annual overview of WTO activities and for reporting under the WTO (WT/L/105).

15. Appointment of Officers to WTO bodies — Announcement by the Chairman pursuant to paragraph 7.1(A) of the Guidelines (WT/L/510)

In line with the Guidelines for the Appointment of Officers to WTO bodies (WT/L/510), the Chair announced that she had started consultations on the appointment of officers to WTO bodies, assisted by the serving Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body and former Chairs of the General Council. The Chair also said that she had already started to put into practice the practical steps agreed at the July meeting to improve the implementation of the guidelines for the appointment of officers.

 

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