behalf of the WTO, I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to all participants at this
"Geneva Week" for Non-Geneva based WTO Member and Observer delegations. This is
an Organization to which you belong, either as a Member or to which you are an observer.
Most observers are in the process of acceding to the WTO, and we look forward to welcoming
you as full Members.
this is a week of great significance. Virtually all of the WTO Members and observer
delegations, without permanent physical representation here in Geneva, are present here
today, at the WTO, as We prepare for the Third Ministerial Conference, scheduled to take
place in Seattle from 30 November to 3 December 1999 exactly one month from today.
Your presence here is a positive step in the complex and on-going process of assisting the
integration of the smaller and vulnerable countries - the least-developed countries and
other small economies, into the Multilateral Trading System.
I want to
express my profound gratitude to the WTO Member governments that made this "Geneva
Week" possible through their generous contribution and funding, in particular the
Governments of the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland.
like to acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of UNCTAD,
who will be present here this afternoon, as well as those of Dr. Khamil Idris,
Director-General, WIPO, and Mr. Denis BÚlisle, Executive Director of the International
Trade Centre (ITC). I also extend my appreciation to the representatives of the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund, and to the representatives of the other Organizations
who will participate in this week's events.
important to recognize the valuable contributions made in the design of the Programme for
this Week by Ambassador Anthony Hill. I continue to rely on his advice, experience and his
intellectual insights as to how the process of the integration of developing countries
into the multilateral trading system can be assisted and accelerated. As you will note in
the Programme before you, Tony will moderate several of the Sessions.
has often been said to be a Member-driven Organization. It is your Organization, and we
are your Secretariat. Our objective is to make sure that the needs of your Governments are
met and that even if you are physically thousands of miles away, you can feel that you are
in close communication with us here in Geneva and that we can interact.
why the focus of the week is on "assisting integration into the trading system",
and why we are devoting an important part of the time to listening, and responding to what
you feel you need from us. We hope to learn from you and, therefore, better serve you
because of this programme.
also invited many of our sister agencies which are based, or have offices in Geneva to
explain their roles, in policy analysis and capacity-building. I am grateful to these
Organizations for having sent senior staff Members to deliver presentations.
be asking you during the week to let us know your priorities and needs in terms of
technical assistance; whether the Reference Centres that the WTO has installed in many of
your Ministries meet your needs; and whether the quality of assistance you receive from us
is adequate; and what more can be done to improve what we do.
first day as Director-General, I stated my priorities as follows:
facilitate and assist all participants to get the most balanced outcome from the new
negotiations, and an outcome which benefits the most vulnerable economies;
- to be an advocate for the benefits to both great and modest nations of a more
open trading system, and one that can increase living standards and build a more
prosperous, safer world; and,
strengthen the WTO and its rules, to build on and maintain its reputation for integrity
and fairness, and to reshape the organization to reflect the reality of its membership and
commitment will not waiver in promoting the just and rational trade interests of the
smaller, the vulnerable and the marginalized countries.
like to underscore five points which provide an important background and setting
for this "Geneva Week".
I believe that it is vital that we continue to remind ourselves of the value and
contributions of the multilateral trading system over a fifty year period, to raising
living standards and building a better more stable world. Of paramount importance has been
the establishment of the rules-based system. Of equal importance have been those core
values now universally accepted to be WTO values, namely the principle of non-discrimination,
as expressed in Most Favoured Nation (mfn) and National Treatment, transparency,
predictability and the rule of law. Much work remains to be done to realize
more fully the benefits of the multilateral trading system; and there will always be scope
for improvement in the system itself. The fact that there are 37 countries here today who
are not represented in Geneva and many of whom are not yet Members, speaks clearly enough
of one area where improvement is essential.
we need to acknowledge that the multilateral trading system has delivered great benefits
by creating a stable, rules-based framework, and driving forward trade liberalization.
However, trade liberalization per se is not an end in itself. The ultimate goal of
trade liberalization is the achievement of rapid economic growth and sustainable
development, which should in turn lead to poverty alleviation. Over 3 billion people live
in poverty, that is, on less than US$2 dollar a day. We need to exert ourselves and focus
our efforts to offer all peoples, particularly the poor and the marginalized, the gift of
opportunity. Nonetheless, even as we acknowledge that trade is an engine for growth and necessary
for development, we also need to come to terms with the fact that it is not a sufficient
condition. Many other factors intervene in the complex relationship between trade and
development, including national policies in such areas as macro-economic management and
regulation, governance and the rule of law.
coherence in global economic management is indispensable in the task of assisting the
integration of developing countries into the multilateral trading system, in poverty
alleviation and the urgent task of accelerating development by increasing growth rates. To
this end, the WTO is working actively with the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund (IMF), under the Mandate provided by our Ministers in Marrakesh. We hope that our
efforts, combined with those of other organizations, will deliver concrete benefits to
developing countries on debt relief, project and programme assistance, improving and
enhancing technical assistance for trade-related capacity-building and
we all have an obligation to assist in improving public understanding of the benefits of
trade liberalization, and the damaging cost to national economies of trade protection.
Often, it is argued that protection is required to save jobs. However, what escapes public
scrutiny and what is unmentioned are the short to long-term costs to a country's tax payer
of trade protection. These costs arise from production inefficiencies, delayed adjustment,
inefficiency in resource allocation potential, corruption, and so on. In the rich
countries of the OECD, the cost of protection to consumers has been estimated at US$300
billion; and in one country the cost to consumers of protecting a single job was estimated
at US$600,000. Open, liberalizing, market-oriented economies do better and grow faster
than closed, trade restrictive economies. This is a historic fact.
as noted a moment ago, the General Council of the WTO is now in the final month of its
preparatory work for the Seattle Ministerial Conference. This process began in September
last year, pursuant to paragraph 9 of the Geneva Ministerial Conference. The preparatory
process is now in an advanced stage. Preparations include the drafting of a Ministerial
Declaration for Ministers to adopt at Seattle. Much work still remains to be done. Active
negotiations are underway, including in this period that you will be here. We shall be
devoting a large part of this week to the discussion of "Seattle issues".
Seattle Ministerial Conference will set the trade policy agenda for the new Millennium by
adopting a Ministerial Declaration, and launching a new Round of Multilateral Trade
Negotiations. For the Declaration and for the scope of a new Round of Trade Negotiations,
all Members have emphasised the fundamental importance of implementation of past
Agreements negotiated under the Uruguay Round. Under implementation, basic and fundamental
issues of systemic importance have been raised. These are being negotiated.
from the Uruguay Round, Members are already committed to negotiations in agriculture and
services. There are other issues. Members must decide how far to go on those issues that
arose at the First WTO Ministerial Conference in Singapore - the so called "new
issues" - namely, investment, competition policy, transparency in government
procurement and trade facilitation.
Declaration was adopted by Ministers at the Second WTO Ministerial Conference, here in
Geneva, last year, on electronic commerce. Members are negotiating how to proceed with
what is one of the most rapidly growing areas of commercial transactions in the global
trading system today an area of huge potential and opportunity. Proposals have been
made and negotiations are evolving on the environmental sustainability of WTO Agreements,
including those that may be negotiated in a new Round.
of a new Round must be balanced and reflect the interests of all Members. I have stated as
my priority the necessity of working with Members to ensure that poor countries in
particular obtain a balanced outcome from a new Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations.
This is my firm commitment.
the proposals for the new Round, which I believe that WTO Members will agree to, is that
participants will include both WTO Members and countries in the process of acceding. At
the end of the day, of course, it will be the Members alone that will decide outcomes. I
appeal to all participants present here to give their strong support to the negotiations
and for those who are in accession negotiations, to try to complete them as soon as
possible. We stand ready to assist in any way we can. A new Round will maintain the
momentum for trade liberalization, keep protectionism at bay, improve market access and
enhance the prospects for rapid growth and development.
brings me to the three central purposes of this "Geneva Week".
Seattle is a month away, and inputs by non-resident Members into the process is not only a
right, but is also desirable. It makes us all stronger. The experience of participants
gathered here today, their concerns, problems and needs, will be a valuable contribution
to the preparatory process for the Ministerial Conference.
this is an exercise in transparency. Some Members have expressed the view that in previous
Rounds of Trade Negotiations, they were uninvolved in the preparatory process, and even
when the negotiations began, they did not participate. Even worse, when they signed
agreements, they were not aware of what they had signed. It would be helpful if views are
clearly expressed here on how some of the problems arising from non-residency can be
addressed, including in the course of negotiations in a new Round of Trade Negotiations.
Not just this week but right through the Round.
this is also an exercise in broadening WTO decision-making. Copies of the current draft
Ministerial Declaration will be circulated. Members of the Secretariat will make
presentations on issues of systemic importance as well as the current structure, issues in
the draft text and the state of play. I urge participants to interact actively with the
resource persons and those who will make presentations.
I have asked Ambassador Hill and my Secretariat colleagues to advise me, in consultation
with you on how the ideas, views and suggestions that will result from your discussions
can be taken further after Seattle and, to that end, how the WTO can be of assistance.
extend a warm welcome to all participants; and will now hand-over to Ambassador Hill, who
will moderate the First Session on: Participation in the WTO:
opportunities for small developing countries, resources available, and how to use them.
Hill you have the Chair.