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THIS BRIEFING NOTE IS DESIGNED TO HELP JOURNALISTS AND THE PUBLIC
UNDERSTAND DEVELOPMENTS IN THE HONG KONG MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE. WHILE EVERY
EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO ENSURE THE CONTENTS ARE ACCURATE, IT DOES NOT
PREJUDICE MEMBER GOVERNMENTS' POSITIONS.
> 14 December
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Other WTO Ministerials:
10–14 Sept. 2003
Doha 9–14 Nov. 2001
Seattle 30 Nov.–3 Dec. 1999
18-20 May 1998
9–13 Dec. 1996
The opening session took place in the afternoon and featured statements from
Chief Executive Tsang, Commerce, Industry and Technology Secretary John C
Tsang of Hong Kong, China, who is the conference chairperson, WTO
Director-General Pascal Lamy, General Council Chairperson Amina Mohamed, who
is Kenya’s ambassador to the WTO, and UNCTAD Secretary-General (and former
WTO Director-General) Supachai Panitchpakdi, on behalf of UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
> See statements
Ministers then proceeded to the business of the conference. Chairperson John
Tsang confirmed his
earlier announcement in the WTO General Council in Geneva that he had
invited six ministers to act as “facilitators” to help him with negotiations
on various subjects. Three of them are:
Non-agricultural market access — Commerce Minister Humayun Khan of
Agriculture — Trade and Industry Minister Mukhisa Kituyi of Kenya
Development issues — Foreign Trade and International Cooperation
Minister Clement Rohee of Guyana
Three more are facilitators-at-large, who could assist as necessary on
services, rules and other issues:
Trade Minister Hyun Chong Kim of Korea (he started work on services
the following day);
Foreign Minister Jonas Støre of Norway; and
Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker of Chile
> For the Cancún “friends of the chair”, see Cancún first day report
At a press conference later, Chairperson Tsang said he and the facilitators
will be holding informal meetings both among the full membership and in
smaller groups, ensuring “transparency” and “inclusiveness”, i.e. that all
members are informed and are represented in the consultations.
As in previous Ministerial Conferences, these informal meetings will take
place while the formal plenary continues with general statements from
ministers. The first consultation began shortly after the opening session,
on non-agricultural market access.
Non-agricultural market access
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Group meeting 5 pm
This first meeting was short. Facilitator
Humayun Khan (Pakistan) said he hoped members would avoid the temptation
to use the large meetings to restate well-known positions or to make
tactical statements. The more time members spend in large meetings the
less time will be available to make real progress, he said.
He proposed concentrating the negotiations on small group meetings or
consultations between himself and individual delegations so that he can
sense members’ interests and concerns. For transparency, he will also hold
meetings with the full membership.
Mr Khan said that his objective as facilitator is to reach a result in
non-agricultural market access that would be acceptable to everybody.
“It may not be the one you would have sought or desired but that is what
compromises are made of. This is where the challenge lies and of course
this challenge is yours to meet,” he said.
“It remains to be seen how much we can improve the [draft ministerial]
text, if at all, but we must all do our best”.
He also said it would be a pity to waste the opportunity of this
Ministerial to move the non-agricultural market access negotiations
“If we don’t make progress this week we leave ourselves a monumental task
next year”, he said.
No member spoke and the meeting ended.
For explanations see the briefing notes
> See also draft ministerial text,
paragraphs 12 to 18
and Annex B
> More Hong Kong photos