permission, I will make a few general comments on the consultative process before
reporting on the progress made concerning measures in favour of least-developed countries.
General Council agreed on 8 February that I should carry out consultations in co-operation
with you on a number of issues that I had identified in my report to that meeting. These
issues were, as reflected in the agenda items for today's Council, measures in favour of
least-developed countries, capacity-building through technical co-operation,
implementation including transition period issues, and internal transparency and the
effective participation of Members.
the first three of these issues I have, in agreement with you, conducted consultations,
aided most ably by my deputies. We have also been fortunate to have the active support of
the Chairman of the Council for Trade in Goods, who at your request has carried out
consultations on TRIMs transition periods.
yourself have taken the lead in consulting on the fourth issue, internal transparency and
the effective participation of Members. I understand you will be reporting on this later.
has been a very intensive consultative process. In the course of the last three months we
have consulted both widely and deeply. I have reported to informal meetings of the General
Council on three different occasions, and there has been a full and lively exchange of
views at these meetings on the issues under consultation.
would like to thank all delegations for their co-operative and constructive spirit
throughout this process. I would like to thank my colleagues in the Secretariat for their
hard and devoted work. I would also like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your support and
leadership, as well as the Goods Council Chair, Ambassador Pérez del Castillo.
objectives we set ourselves in February can be seen as modest from some points of view. I
would prefer to say realistic. The results may not meet everyone's hopes in all cases. But
when you look at where we started from I believe there is good reason to be encouraged
about the resilience and dynamism of the WTO system, and what we are capable of doing when
we work together.
me now report on measures in favour of least-developed countries.
Market Access, the results of the consultations are encouraging, especially if they
are seen, as I suggest they should be, as a significant step in a continuing process of
improvement. I am encouraged that Canada, the EC, Japan and the United States have
proposed to implement both tariff-free and quota-free treatment, consistent with domestic
requirements and international agreements, under their preferential schemes, for
essentially all products originating in least-developed countries.
am glad to say that we have also had indications from the following Members that they have
taken, or are intending to take, measures to improve the access of LDCs to their markets:
Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Korea, Norway, New Zealand, Slovenia and
measures are, of course, in addition to those which have already been taken by a number of
Members since the 1997 High-Level Meeting for LDCs or indeed earlier. I should also note
that one delegation, Hong Kong China, has reminded us that they give free access to
imports from all sources, including LDCs.
should emphasize that these are autonomous and voluntary measures, and I assume that
Members extending access benefits to LDCs would wish them to be known. For this reason, I
suggest that Members inform the Membership as a whole, in line with existing decisions and
through the appropriate bodies, whenever they take any such actions in the future.
these measures are beginning to add up to tangible and meaningful market access
improvements in favour of LDCs. There is of course more that can and should be done in
improving LDCs' market access, but this is a good starting-point.
is a clear will among the membership as a whole to do more to open up trading
opportunities for LDCs, and this is a very positive sign. Of course there are
understandable concerns about issues such as potential trade diversion. This is why I
believe that, at appropriate intervals, we should keep under review the evolution of
market access provisions for LDCs, not only to help ensure a positive impact for LDCs, but
also to avoid any unforeseen negative effects on other Members.
Secondly, I should like to bring you up to date on the state of play on the Integrated
IF is a vital aspect of our efforts to address the trade-related capacity-building needs
of LDCs, and assist their integration into the multilateral trading system. It is one of
my top-most priorities and I am concerned that it is not so far fulfilling the justified
expectations of Members. The IF also requires close coordination among the six core
agencies, and therefore is a very important element in our mandate for coherence with
other international organizations.
initiated a meeting of the Geneva-based agency heads on the IF, and are now following up
at chef de cabinet level on this process. I discussed it with the other agency heads at
the UNCTAD meeting in Bangkok, and recently at the meeting of the UN Administrative
Committee on Coordination (ACC) in Rome, I emphasised the need for the IF to work
effectively for LDCs, and for a stronger, more coherent line of approach to the IF. I
believe that the WTO Secretariat will be in a position to provide a lead in this field and
I am taking steps to make sure that happens. At our suggestion, the Executive Heads of the
UN system organizations have agreed that the WTO, as the lead agency for the IF, will
report back to the ACC at its next session.
IF is currently undergoing a major review mandated by the six core agencies. This is well
advanced. An independent Review Team, task-managed by the World Bank, was in Geneva from
17-20 April. The Team met with the representatives of all the Geneva-based core Agencies
(ITC, UNCTAD, and the WTO Secretariat). I also had a useful and productive meeting with
the Team Leader. The Team also met with virtually all Geneva-based LDCs and a wide
spectrum of other Members, developed and developing.
Team's report will be ready by the first week of June. The Heads of the 6 core Agencies
(World Bank, IMF, ITC, UNCTAD and UNDP) will meet on 6 July in New York to report a
meeting held at our suggestion. We shall then report to the respective governing bodies of
should also report that in my recent meeting with the President of the World Bank, Mr.
Wolfensohn was very supportive of our efforts on the IF and, more generally, our work to
improve co-operation with other agencies in the interests of WTO Members. I will report
more fully on these points when the General Council discusses the coherence issue.
support of these efforts and on-going developments, I have also been considering ways of
enhancing institutional arrangements for addressing LDC matters in the WTO,
including Secretariat arrangements. There has been some discussion among Members as to
whether, in present circumstances, the existing Sub-Committee on LDCs should be converted
to a new Committee on LDCs, and whether new Secretariat arrangements should be made to
service such a new Committee if it were to be established.
understand that, while there is some support for the establishment of a new Committee as a
stronger signal that the WTO is fully focused on addressing LDCs' concerns meaningfully
and effectively, others feel that the present structure is working well and provides a
valuable link between LDC questions and the full Committee on Trade and Development, its
parent body. This is an issue which may deserve further consideration.
Accessions. Many of our Members considered that Accessions is a subject which is
not limited to LDCs. Nonetheless, Members, developed and developing, have been flexible.
In concrete terms, my consultations show that a fast-track system on accessions for LDCs
would involve only a few countries. Therefore, a generalized, long-term effort would not
be required. It was also recognized that action in this area would entail enhanced
technical assistance. However, I understand that Members are prepared to consider
favourably the possibilities for accelerating the pace of accession for LDCs, bearing in
mind that the pace of accession also depends on institutional capacity in the LDCs
themselves. It has been suggested that WTO Members could strive to complete current LDCs'
accessions by the time of the Fourth Session of the Ministerial Conference.
is my report on measures in favour of least-developed countries, Mr Chairman. Thank you.