WTO: 2013 NEWS ITEMS

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE: INFORMAL MEETING


NOTE:
THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.

“INFORMAL MEETING” means there are no minutes.

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Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo’s statement
Informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting,
14 October 2013

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee.

Today marks the beginning of our count-down to identify all landing zones in our three Bali deliverables. In just a few weeks’ time, we will have a clear idea of whether or not the Bali package can be done.

The main purpose for today’s meeting is to hear reports from the Chairs with Bali deliverables and the LDC Facilitator on the consultations they have conducted over the past two weeks. On my side, I will briefly update you on the most recent meetings I have undertaken, as well as set out the process for this final countdown phase.

As I mentioned at the General Council of last Wednesday, I have been undertaking a number of outreach activities with Ministers to request for their urgent personal and direct engagement in this critical countdown phase to Bali. This has included the APEC meetings in Bali and a meeting with Minister Sharma in New Delhi. Last week DDG Agah, on my behalf, delivered the same message to ACP Trade Ministers at their meeting in Brussels.

The responses from Ministers have been unanimously positive. There is a strong determination and commitment to work constructively towards a successful outcome in Bali and Ministers fully understand what is at stake.

Therefore the resolve and determination are very strong, not only to safeguard and preserve the credibility of the organization but also to advance the DDA and we all know that the first necessary step in the realisation of these desires is concrete outcomes at MC9.

As many of you know, I was also due to travel to the World Bank annual meetings last Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, however, I was not able to proceed with this visit due to flight delays and cancellations that kept me here in Geneva since they had irremediably compromised my programme in Washington. This was a great disappointment as I had been looking forward to taking the message of our preparations for Bali to the Annual meetings.

All was not lost however. I was delighted that despite my absence, the World Bank, the IMF and four regional development banks followed through on what we had previously explored and proceeded to deliver a joint statement in which they offered their strong support for the Bali Ministerial meeting, particularly in the area of trade facilitation.

The statement recognises that concerns persist in the trade facilitation negotiations about access to and the coherence of assistance. As such, the World Bank and its partners have committed to work with us to help ensure that the new trade facilitation commitments are supported, and that such backing will be properly coordinated with the support that they are providing for complementary infrastructure development.

This is an extremely encouraging message and I think should help our Section II discussions where capacity to implement remains a key area of concern. Indeed the joint statement also calls for a more coordinated and effective response to requests for support on implementation — this is something on which I think we need ideas from Members.

While I have been away, the three Chairs, the LDC Facilitator and Friends of the Trade Facilitation Chair have continued to work intensively. It is therefore appropriate that the Chairs report directly to you on the work they have been doing — so I would like to give each one of them the floor so that they can brief you and me on the progress that they have made over the last two weeks.

So; I would like to start by giving Ambassador Sperisen-Yurt (Guatemala) — the Chairman of the Negotiating Group on Trade Facilitation the floor.

Now, I would like to offer the floor to Ambassador John Adank (New Zealand) — Chairman of the Special Session on the Committee on Agriculture

Now I would like to ask Ambassador Kwok Fook Seng (Singapore) — Chairman of the Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Development to report on his work.

Let me now offer the floor to Ambassador Steffen Smidt — Facilitator for LDC issues

Thank you to all the Chairs for their very helpful and encouraging reports. You have now all of you heard the state of play in the three DDA Bali deliverables. It is clear that, for a change, some very important advances have been made in all areas under discussion. Some of that convergence is of a conceptual nature and we still need to find language that captures such agreements. However, on a number of issues you are yet to converge. Like I have said before, this is now crunch time.  Unless you show additional flexibility and work in a spirit of compromise, we will not make it for Bali.  

Last week, I asked you to clear out your diaries for this intensive period so that you could devote maximum time and effort to securing consensus. We must bridge and close all key remaining gaps by the end of the month.

In terms of concrete next steps, starting today I will be undertaking intensive consultations. My consultations will cover specific key issues; key paragraphs and even key words which need urgent attention and focus to quickly find appropriate landing zones. I will meet with delegations, individually or otherwise to find workable solutions that could be acceptable to the membership as a whole

I have met with the Chairs and asked each one of them to identify the absolutely necessary issues that will require my own focused attention and which delegations I should talk to. So, be ready. In getting ready, do not just reread your old instructions. Think how these old instructions could allow you to find space for convergence. That is what you have to do.

In addition, I have asked the Chairs to continue with their own consultations as appropriate and further narrow and close gaps. Our processes will feed into each other and we will not accept any unravelling of what has been agreed in either process.

So, as we work through and finalize our countdown phase I will be calling on you from now on — on very short notice and possibly unexpectedly. This will also be the case for TNC meetings. Let me repeat what I said at the General Council, from today, every hour is a working hour, and every day a working day.

Finally, we will need to start working on the outcome document to be issued at MC9.  As you know, obviously, this document, to a large extent, will be framed by the achievements we can deliver for Bali which I hope will be very clear from our work over these next two weeks.   Nonetheless, the General Council Chair and myself intend to soon start consultations about how Members feel about the MC9 final document and our work after Bali.

So that concludes our side of the meeting.

The floor is open to make focused business like interventions if delegations feel they have to.

 Jargon buster 

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