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Hong Kong, China - 2005

logo for the 6th Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, China - 2005

SUMMARY OF 13 DECEMBER 2005

Day 1: Conference opens formally and ministers consult on industrial goods

Hong Kong, China’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang formally opened the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference on 13 December 2005, and ministers started consultations on market access for non-agricultural products.

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See also:
Hong Kong Ministerial main page
Hong Kong briefing notes

NOTE:
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.

Meeting summaries:
14 December
15 December
16 December
17 December
18 December

Other WTO Ministerials:
> Cancún 10–14 Sept. 2003
> Doha 9–14 Nov. 2001
> Seattle 30 Nov.–3 Dec. 1999
> Geneva 18-20 May 1998
> Singapore 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 Pakistan

  • 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  back to top  
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 forward.

“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

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