3 DECEMBER DISCUSSIONS
meetings continued through the night of December 2 and into December 3. The main
discussions were in meetings in which some 2040 ministers took part. The people
attending these meetings varied according to subject, and the chairpeople did their utmost
to ensure that participants represented a cross-section of the members positions on
the relevant subjects.
was reported in a number of areas, but by late afternoon it was clear that there was too
little time left to complete the work of narrowing the gaps, bringing the draft
declaration back to the plenary working groups, making any additional changes arising from
the working groups and then approving the declaration by consensus. The conference had
simply run out of time.
chairperson Charlene Barshefsky, the US Trade Representative, told ministers at the
concluding plenary session: "We found as time passed that divergences of opinion
remained that would not be overcome rapidly. Our collective judgment, shared by the [WTO]
Director-General, the Working Group Chairs and Co-Chairs, and the membership generally,
was that it would be best to take a time out, consult with one another, and find creative
means to finish the job."
added: "During this time, the Director-General can consult with delegations and
discuss creative ways in which we might bridge the remaining areas in which consensus does
not yet exist, develop an improved process which is both efficient and fully inclusive,
and prepare the way for successful conclusion."
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Director-General Mike Moore said in a press statement issued on 8 December:
"I feel particular disappointment because the postponement of our deliberations means
the benefits that would have accrued to developing and least-developed countries will now
be delayed, while the problems facing these countries will not be allayed. A package of
results is within reach.
Chairperson of the Seattle Ministerial Conference has directed me to consult with
delegations and discuss creative ways in which we might bridge the remaining areas in
which consensus does not yet exist, develop an improved process which is both efficient
and fully inclusive, and prepare the way for successful conclusion. That is what I
the discussions will take place informally over the coming weeks and possibly months. More
formally, the WTO General Council is scheduled to meet on 17 December when
"after Seattle" issues are on the agenda. Whatever happens, members have already
agreed and written into current WTO agreements that talks in agriculture and
services will start in the beginning of 2000. Whether they will then want to add other
topics, or complete the agenda that was under discussion in Seattle, and if so when,
remains to be seen.
also: WTO BRIEFING NOTE (1) - Summary of December 1 meetings;
WTO BRIEFING NOTE (2) - Summary of December 2 meetings