WTO: 2013 NEWS ITEMS

GENERAL COUNCIL

Summary of the General Council meeting

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MINUTES:

Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

Today I would like to take a step back and look at the overall picture of what are the elements that will make up the package of deliverables at MC9.

The starting point for this consideration is the mandate that we received by Ministers at MC8. That mandate included a number of decisions and a series of political guidelines that are the compass directing our path towards Bali.

Some of them, such as the strengthening, streamlining and operationalization of the guidelines for the accession of LDCs, have already been delivered. This was an important sign of commitment and political will — as well as a lesson for the work ahead.

MC8 also asked for a reinvigoration of the Work Programme on E-Commerce, for a report on progress related to the Work Programme on Small Economies, to make recommendations regarding TRIPS non violation and situation complaints, to undertake focused work in the CTD, all of which are being advanced in their respective bodies.

At the informal TNC meeting last Friday we focused on the DDA elements that are being developed as part of the deliverables for Bali: namely, Trade Facilitation, Agriculture and Development/LDC issues. The message that we would all have taken away from that discussion is clear: “run faster or you will not make it to the Bali finishing line”. So, I would like to encourage you, like I did last week, to step up your engagement, listen to each other and accelerate work on all fronts.

I also mentioned that consideration of the extension of the transition period for LDCs under TRIPS Art. 66.1 needed to be urgently looked into given that the July deadline was fast approaching.

Aid for Trade is another area that has to be added to the MC9 basket of deliverables. Preparations for the 4th Global Review of Aid for Trade on 8-10 July are advancing well.  Our monitoring exercise is harvesting a rich crop of unique information on how developing countries, and in particular LDCs, are seeking to connect to value chains, and on how donors are supporting this process.

What really makes this year’s exercise unique is the information from the private sector. More than 600 replies have been received so far and still counting. Particularly impressive though is the geographic spread. The replies have come in from over 120 countries and territories, from Antigua to Zimbabwe. But some are still missing; notably from several partner countries that replied in 2011. The final cut off is the end of this month and I would urge you to get your reply in.  And beware!  You may find that even if your government has not replied, your private sector has.

All this information means that we have the basis for a rich debate at the 4th Global Review. I shall be issuing an information note on preparations for the Review before the next CTD Aid for Trade on 13 March.

The Global Review is a rigorous health check for the Aid for Trade initiative. It’s an opportunity to discuss how we can use trade for development; a moment to refocus our efforts on supporting those countries that are still marginal to the trading system. These themes have immediate relevance for the Ministerial Conference in Bali. I fully expect the July Review to set the groundwork for a robust work programme which MC9 could take forward.

Looking at other venues, and several delegations touched on this at the TNC, there could also be space for a positive outcome in other negotiating areas such as the ITA, where technical discussions are taking place to expand the product and member coverage of the Agreement. Or in Government Procurement, where work is now focusing on bringing into effect the revised Agreement.

So, in conclusion, we have the map and the timeline to get to Bali. We all know that it will take hard work, honest negotiations and a lot of goodwill to get there. With only around 20 weeks of work between now and the summer break, we need acceleration across the board in order to get there. At the TNC on April 11 we will have the next opportunity to assess progress in the DDA — in individual areas and horizontally and I call upon you to utilize the time between now and then productively and with result-oriented minds.

Let me in closing also mention that the Panel on Defining the Future of Trade which I announced at MC8 will be releasing its Report in early April.

 

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