Welcome to the 14th Geneva Week event which
the WTO Secretariat organises for non-resident Members and Observers. I
would also like to warmly welcome the representatives of regional
economic organizations and other specialised bodies that are
participating in this week's activity.
I am pleased to note that, as was the case
last year, attendance is high with participation from 25 out of the 30
Members and Observers that do not have representation in Geneva. In
total, we have 70 participants attending this Geneva Week. This good
level of attendance continues to signify the importance attached to
Geneva Week events. They not only provide an opportunity for you to be
kept abreast of developments in the WTO and the DDA, but also for us to
be kept informed of your needs, priorities and concerns.
I understand the particular challenges faced
by Non Residents and I would like to reassure you that the WTO will
continue to be responsive to your special needs. For example, many of
you have expressed keen interest in participating in the meetings of the
General Council. I am, therefore, pleased that we have been able to
organise this Geneva Week around a meeting of the General Council on
In addition to your active participation in
the General Council and the various briefings, we look forward to
learning more about your priorities, and needs in terms of technical
assistance. It would be useful for us to know whether the quality and
type of assistance you receive from us is adequate and what else we
could do to help you better participate in the work of the WTO. Your
input will help us draw up the next Technical Assistance Plan for WTO
Members and Observers. You will have a chance to make your views heard
this Friday afternoon during a briefing on the 2007 TA plan.
Allow me to say a few words on the current
state of play in the DDA negotiations. You will be receiving detailed
briefings on all areas from the chairs of the negotiating groups
throughout this week. Since the last Geneva Week in November last year,
I am pleased to report that at the General Council meeting of February
2007, I announced the return to full negotiating mode across the board.
Since then, the level of activity has
increased and work has restarted in the negotiating groups with regular
meetings and consultations taking place. At the political level, there
is continued commitment to the successful conclusion of the round. As I
mentioned in the informal TNC meeting held just over two weeks ago,
various meetings have taken place at ministerial level and I have
participated in many of them including the meetings of the G33, the
Cairns Group, Caricom as well as the World Bank and IMF spring meetings
in Washington. In addition, I have continued my contacts with a wide
range of Members, meeting with permanent representatives and the
negotiating groups chairs here in Geneva, as well as consulting with
governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean and
North America. In my consultations, I have continued to stress that
there is no substitute for a genuine multilateral negotiation process
here in Geneva and that time is not on our side.
In all areas of the negotiations, the chairs
are working towards revised papers which can become the basis for
agreement. As a matter of fact, today members will begin consideration
of the paper that has been prepared by the chair of the Agriculture
negotiating group aimed at identifying the “centre of gravity” of the
negotiations. This paper only covers a first set of issues in
agriculture and will be followed by a second instalment very soon.
Ambassador Falconer's paper is the first in a series of draft papers
that will be issued by chairs of the different negotiating bodies.
The reality is that we now need to see serious
substantive engagement by all WTO Members including you, the non
residents. It is important that Members support the chairs by providing
constructive inputs and by showing a willingness to negotiate and to be
But there is more to the round than just
Agriculture. Concluding the Round means concluding it in line with the
full Doha mandate, the July 2004 Decision and the Hong Kong Declaration.
Progress is equally needed in all of the other topics including
services, trade facilitation, rules — including fisheries subsidies
which impact many of you — development issues, TRIPS and environment.
A breakthrough in the negotiations in the next
few weeks would send a much needed message of confidence, that WTO
Members remain committed to open markets and to multilateral rules. This
will help reinforce the foundations of the global economy. I am aware
that this represents a huge task but I remain convinced that it is
doable, especially given the substantial amount of work that has already
been accomplished and the existing political engagement. However, I am
of the opinion that the challenge now is more political than technical.
The challenge is about leadership, about compromise, about countries
recognising their common interest in success and the collective costs of
failure. During the briefings by the various chairs of negotiating
groups, I urge you all to actively participate and provide your inputs
to the process. Furthermore, I encourage you to also consult with other
Members and with your regional groupings.
In addition to the negotiations, work on a
number of key issues has continued and I would like to share with you
the progress that has been made so far in some important areas, starting
with Aid for Trade, an area of great importance to you all.
Since the last Geneva Week in November last
year, work has been ongoing to operationalise Aid for Trade. I have
continued my consultations with regional development banks, development
agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors. The WTO will provide the
platform for monitoring and regularly reviewing whether Aid for Trade is
being adequately funded and delivering the expected results.
This monitoring and evaluation will be undertaken on three levels
namely; a global review of Aid for Trade flows; evaluations of national,
regional and multilateral donors' Aid for trade activities; and country
and region based monitoring and evaluation. The first periodic review
with the OECD-DAC took place in the Committee on Trade and Development
on Aid on 2 April 2007. There was wide support among Members for the
three-tiered approach to monitoring and for regional reviews in
particular. Many Members are also now increasingly focused on
identifying Aid for Trade priorities and learning about mechanisms to
access available funding. On 27 April, a meeting with representatives of
international financial institutions and regional development banks took
place. The main objective of this meeting was to examine how to improve
developing countries' access to secure and affordable sources of trade
I am also happy to note that preparations for
the three regional Aid for Trade reviews are advancing well. The first
review is scheduled to take place in Lima, Peru on 5-7 September for the
Latin America/Caribbean region, the second review will take place in
Manila, Philippines on 19-20 September for the Asian region and the
third review will take place on 27-28 September in Tanzania for the
Africa region. In all these three regional reviews, the respective
regional development banks are taking the lead in coordinating the
preparations. All this will lead to the monitoring and evaluation event
which will be hosted here on 20-21 November.
I urge you to continue to follow closely this
work and to participate as actively as you can to ensure that the
ongoing consultations also benefit from your inputs. Valentine Rugwabiza
and her small but very efficient team are the contact point for you on
this during the week.
A second area where there has been significant
progress is the Enhanced Integrated Framework for LDCs. I am pleased to
report to you that last week, the IF governing bodies adopted the
recommendations of the Transition Team which had been established to
operationalise the recommendations for an Enhanced IF.
I would also encourage those of you who are
negotiating accession to the WTO to use your stay here to take contact
with members to address issues which remain open. The staff in the
Secretariat, Alejandro Jara and myself are at your disposal for any
assistance we could provide.
In conclusion, let me say again how pleased I
am that all of you are here this week. You are here at what may be a
defining moment for the success of the Doha negotiations, which would
result in a more equitable, more development friendly set of rules for
I urge you to use your time in Geneva to
benefit from all the briefings and exchanges you will have with the
Chairs of the negotiating groups, the Secretariat and the WTO Members. I
wish you all a very fruitful 14th Geneva Week.