WTO: 2013 NEWS ITEMS

GENERAL COUNCIL

Summary of General Council meeting of 24 July 2013

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This was the last General Council meeting at which the Director-General, Mr Pascal Lamy, was present in that capacity. In a dedicated afternoon session on 24 July, the DG gave his farewell statement to the General Council (JOB/GC/55).

The General Council Chairman, the Director-General designate, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, and 52 delegations bade farewell to DG Lamy.

 

1.Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

    The Director-General recalled that, at the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) meeting on 22 July, delegations had assessed the state of play with respect to the three potential Doha Development Agenda (DDA) Bali deliverables — trade facilitation, agriculture, and special and differential treatment (S&D)/least-developed countries (LDC) issues. The overall assessment had been that the road to Bali was much clearer: work was proceeding in negotiating groups and there was an increased momentum in substantive engagement. Also, there was a sharper sense of the key remaining issues for urgent decision, including the links between them. Members had also acknowledged that more work was urgently required to close remaining gaps. DG Lamy stressed that Bali was a unique opportunity to reignite the DDA negotiations and that it was also important because of the systemic value it promised if WTO members succeeded. Members should also look towards crafting a post-Bali agenda of work for the Doha Round. His full statement can be found in JOB/GC/54. Ten delegations took the floor. They called for doubled efforts in order to achieve results.

     

2.Aid for Trade — Report by the Director-General on the Fourth Global Review

    In his report on the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade, the DG noted that the Review had substantively contributed to the debate on the connections between Aid for Trade and global value chains (GVCs), and had examined the implications of a world that was built on trade in tasks. He highlighted the main features of the Review and a number of key issues that had emerged.

    In the discussion, it was highlighted that the Aid for Trade (AfT) initiative had succeeded in raising awareness about trade’s role as an engine of growth, mainstreaming trade into development policy, mobilising resources, delivering results, and measuring AfT flows. Delegations pledged their continued support to the initiative.

     

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

    The Chair of the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) reported a way forward had been found concerning the further work to be undertaken by the Secretariat on a factual assessment of the non-tariff measures faced by small economies. She also reported that Barbados had, on behalf of small economies, proposed language for a draft paragraph for consideration at the Ninth Ministerial Conference (MC9) on the future of the Work Programme on Small Economies. The proposed language would be revisited after the summer break.

     

4.Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration

    (a) Reports on meetings of May and July 2013
     The General Council adopted the reports of the Budget Committee in WT/BFA/137 and 138 and approved the specific recommendations therein, including the revised infrastructure contract in WT/BFA/W/298.
    (b)     Management of the WTO Secretariat 2005-2013 — Statement by the Director-General
    The Director-General made a statement on the management of the WTO Secretariat during his eight-year tenure and recalled he had tabled a document in this regard (WT/BFA/W/305).

     

5.WTO Work Programme for the Least-developed Countries — Report by the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on LDCs

    The Chairman of the Sub-Committee on LDCs informed the Council that the Sub-Committee had adopted a revised Work Programme, which contained some modifications to appropriately reflect developments relating to LDCs that had taken place since 2002. In particular, the revised Work Programme mainstreamed the Istanbul Programme of Action into its work, referred to the Enhanced Integrated Framework in the technical assistance section, incorporated the 2012 LDC accession guidelines and institutionalized a periodic review of the Work Programme. The revised Work Programme would now form the basis of work under the aegis of the Sub Committee. A number of delegations welcomed the revised work programme.

     

6.Work programme on electronic commerce — review of progress

    Deputy Director-General Singh reported on a number of positive developments on e-commerce in the CTD and the Services Council. Work was also proceeding in the Goods Council. An oral report was provided on the work in the CTD, and in particular on the Workshop on E-Commerce, Development and SMEs held in April 2013. DDG Singh also reported that he had been conducting consultations, on behalf of the General Council (GC) Chair, with respect to a text for a ministerial decision at MC9. A dedicated session on e-commerce was held on 18 July. The General Council took note of the report by the Deputy Director-General and by the chairs of the subsidiary bodies (including S/C/41 and G/C/53).

     

7.Ninth Session of the Ministerial Conference

    (a) Election of Officers

    The General Council elected the following presiding officers for MC9:
    Chairman:
    H.E. Mr Gita Wirjawan, Minister of Trade of Indonesia
    Vice-Chairs:
    H.E. Mr François Kanimba, Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda
    H.E. Mr Stephen Green, Minister of Trade and Investment of the UK
    the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru.
    The Chairman said that due to some changes in the Government of Peru, he would communicate the name of the third Vice-Chair in due course.
    (b)     Attendance of Observers from International Intergovernmental Organizations
     (i)  Request from the League of Arab States

    The Chairman said that he would continue his consultations after the summer break and urged all delegations to work constructively to address this issue.
    (c)      Request for Observer Status by Palestine to the Ninth Session of the Ministerial Conference (WT/L/884)

    The Chairman said he would continue his consultations after the summer break.

    (d) Statement by the Chairman

    The Chairman reported on a meeting he had had with the chairs of the General Council subsidiary bodies, as part of MC9 preparatory work. He recalled that the Conference had to fulfil its standing obligation to undertake an overview of WTO activities, on the basis of annual reports from the General Council and its subsidiary bodies. These annual reports constituted the main vehicle through which WTO bodies report to ministers on progress of work in their respective areas. He said the meeting focused on the progress of work in these bodies, in particular with respect to follow-up to MC8 and that chairs had reported that work was on track. He also said that the preparatory work for Bali had to be intensified after the summer break.

     

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

    The General Council Chairman provided an update on his consultations on this matter.

     

9.Derestriction of some GATT 1947 Historical Bilateral Negotiating Documentation  — Draft Decision

    The Council adopted the draft Decision in G/MA/W/111/REV.1, which had been forwarded to it by the Committee on Market Access through the Council for Trade in Goods.

     

10.    Waivers under Article IX of the WTO Agreement — Review of waivers pursuant to Article IX:4 of the WTO Agreement 

    There were eight waivers before the Council for review and comments were made on the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (United States), on the Andean Trade Preference Act (United States) and on the African Growth Opportunity Act (United States).

     

11.    WTO Pension Plan Management Board

     The General Council considered the report of the Management Board of the WTO Pension Plan contained in documentWT/L/886. The Council also elected Mr Krzysztof Trepczynski (Poland) as the new Chairman to the Management Board of the WTO Pension Plan until the end of its term, as per the Chairman’s proposal in WT/GC/W/670.

    Three items were discussed under “Other business”: (i) Ukraine’s Article XXVIII notification — several delegations expressed concerns about Ukraine’s notification to modify its schedule of tariff concessions under GATT Art. XXVIII and Ukraine said it would transmit the views expressed to capital; (ii) chairmanship of the Council for Trade in Goods — the Chairman announced that there was consensus among members on the appointment of Amb. Dacio Castillo (Honduras) as Chairman of the Council for Trade in Goods; (iii) administrative measures for members in arrears — the Council heard a statement by the Chairman of the Budget Committee concerning the administrative measures for members in arrears.

 

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