WTO has been decisive over the past four months — launching the Doha
Development Round, choosing a venue for our next Ministerial
conference, obtaining a new budget, determining a Trade Negotiations
Committee structure and selecting chairpersons for all the WTO
Committees and Working Bodies, several years ahead of the process
after the launching of the Uruguay Round. To continue this momentum,
the WTO needs to fundamentally address its procedures and culture.
Mediaeval. That's the way EU Commissioner Pascal Lamy described how
the WTO functions, after the Seattle debacle. I told him that was
flattery, we are Jurassic in managerial terms.
and Ambassadors from Developing and Developed countries have expressed
disquiet about how we do our work. They are correct. Take one example:
WTO General Council Chairman Stuart Harbinson recently spent hundreds
of hours negotiating a balanced ticket of chairpersons of working
committees. We are asking ourselves whether there are more efficient
ways of proceeding. Another example: we have spent more than 10,000
hours in consultation over the declassification of documents, at a
cost of around SF 2 million. Almost the entire membership supports
declassification. It's currently held up because two countries are not
convinced there needs to be change. Members have rights and are
entitled to use them; we are a consensus-based organization and must
remain so. But I believe there is still considerable scope for
improvement in the way we do things.
holding seminars in the WTO is controversial. But nonetheless, we are
following up on our mandate from our members, embodied in Point 10 of
the Doha Ministerial Declaration. This states that “…we are
committed to making the WTO's operations more transparent, including
through more effective and prompt dissemination of information, and to
improve dialogue with the public”.
this end, we are holding an important symposium in late April. Key
development issues from the Doha Development Agenda will take center
stage. But following through on our commitment on transparency and
improving dialogue with wider society, there is also a very important
session on the functioning and financing of the WTO.
this symposium, it is my hope that the previous three chairmen of our
General Council will be on hand to offer insights and ideas about how
we can improve our internal and external relations and coherence. We
must make the cliché about maximising transparency and efficiency a
reality. Invitations have gone to senior and experienced Ministers
like Minister Erwin from South Africa, Minister Maran from India, Bob
Zoellick from the United States, Minister Biwott from Kenya and EU
Commissioner Lamy. We also hope that Clayton Yeutter, a US statesman
of great experience, may share some of his views, having lived through
the Uruguay round.
plan special workshops where both critics and friends will have time
put aside to make their case. This includes the environmentalists, the
ICFTU, the Chamber of Commerce, the Third World Network, other
development NGOs like Oxfam, Parliamentarians, and hopefully Party
Political Internationals such as the Socialist International,
Democratic Union, Green Party representatives, Liberal International
and The International Union, representing Christian Democrats. I
believe these kinds of exchanges are all very healthy and can be a
constructive opportunity to learn and improve upon our performance,
the better to serve our Member Governments and the people.
need to encourage better-focused and more constructive inputs from
civil society. They should be given a voice, but not a vote. The WTO
remains an Inter-governmental organization, because ultimately it is
always our member Governments and Parliaments that must ratify any
agreements we conclude.
in return, we should seek from civil society and its representatives a
formal code of conduct, and much greater transparency and
accountability from them to us and to their membership. Given
constructive and creative goodwill, this should not be difficult. I
believe we should eventually establish formal forms and forums for
consultation. I tell NGOs they will sit at the negotiating table in
Geneva when they sit in the Cabinet Room in Downing Street, the White
House, Suva and Brasilia. That said, we need all the inputs and
specialist advice we can get, mainly at the national level, but also
here in Geneva.
hope I can be forgiven, given my own background, if I see a unique
role for Parliamentarians, Trade Unions, and the Chambers of Commerce,
which represent business. They are transparent, accountable and
representative. By contrast, NGOs represent all interests, and range
from the best people on the planet, who work with the poor and suffer
alongside them for their principles, to pure narrow-interest lobby
groups with sometimes shadowy funding.
like to quote one of my heroes, Trade Union leader, Ernest Bevin, who
in his time created the largest union in the world, as well as
Britain's largest daily paper. He was, in my opinion Britain's
greatest Foreign Secretary of the last century. I was reading
Bullock's biography on Bevin over the weekend and was struck by these
statements. Bevin said in 1951: “My foreign policy is to be able to
go to Victoria Station and go anywhere I damn well please”. He
described the special role of the Trade Unions thus: “The
intellectuals were for ever breaking away to form new groups and the
history of the Labour Party is littered with their abandoned
initiatives. They suffer from an opposition mentality and still
thought of politics as an indefinite perpetuation of University Labour
Clubs in which nothing more serious was at stake than a resolution”.
a letter Bevin sent to the intellectual Cole, he said: “You see the
difference between intellectuals and the trade unions is this: you
have no responsibility, you can fly off at a tangent as the wind takes
you. We, however, must be consistent and we have a great amount of
responsibility. We cannot wake up in the morning and get a brainwave,
when father says turn, and half a million people turn automatically.
That does not work”.
doesn't work in the WTO either. Distrust of the motives of unions and
some developed countries, have made developing countries suspicious
that labour issues will be used as protectionist measures against
their workers' jobs and futures. Personally, I wish we could have done
more on the social dimension of globalisation at Doha. This is a
personal view. But please understand the feelings and suspicions of
the overwhelming majority of our Membership. I think the WTO should be
of service to the UN Commission on the Social Dimensions of
Globalisation and the Global Compact. I think it's a good idea to
house the Commission at the ILO in Geneva. About 10 per cent of our
Members agree with this sentiment; another 10 per cent would seek
accommodation, but about 80 per cent are very doubting at best and
most strongly oppose. They see labour issues as a backdoor approach to
attack jobs in their own countries. This need not be so. The
Commission should look at areas such as the rights of migrant workers,
the movement of labour. Only 16 countries have signed the Human Rights
Commission covenant on the rights of migrants.
we must build trust, get results and remind ourselves that
international solidarity and justice demands that the markets of the
north open to the products from the south, especially in Agriculture
and Textiles, which is politically sensitive to your membership in
rich countries. But it's also a sensitive issue for the workers and
Governments in the south.
have learnt that freedom works, and as it grows, so do people’s
living standards. Twenty years ago, Eastern Europe was still stifled
by the iron fist of the communists. In South Africa, South America and
most of Central America, colonels or command economies destroyed
freedom, hope, growth, jobs – driving down environmental and labour
outcomes and rights.
of these countries are free at last. But this freedom is fragile. And
many of their leaders tell me that, without growth – in which trade
and open markets play a key role – they fear for their nations’
future. This is not text-book theory, it’s fact; Transparency
International, UNDP, World Bank facts and figures show that the more
open the economy, the freer the people, the higher their living
standards, the better their labour and environmental conditions. The
more closed the economy, the more corrupt the practices. If these
nascent democracies collapse, what would happen to workers' rights
Doha Development Agenda agreed last year will fail without dramatic
progress in market access. It will fail if we do not build capacity so
that marginalized and capacity-constrained nations can meaningfully
participate in complex new development negotiations and develop good
governance in such areas as investment, government procurement, trade
facilitation, competition and the environment.
from time to time we ought to celebrate the real progress we have made
over the past few decades, which have seen the greatest advances in
living standards on every indicator in most places in the history of
are the most important issues for people across the globe? Life
expectancy, hunger and poverty reduction. Access to clean drinking
water, democracy, a better living environment. And on almost every
useful measurement of the human condition, we have seen the greatest
advances in the history of our species during the last half century,
according to data collected by the UNDP and other agencies.
1900, average life expectancy was 30, today it is 67.
average, developing countries have increased their food intake
from 2,463 to 2,663 calories per person over the past decade —
an increase of 8%.
1970, 35% of all people in developing countries were starving. In
1996, the figure had fallen to 18% and the UN expects the figure
will have fallen to 12% by 2010.
1990-1999, adult illiteracy rates in low-income countries for
males aged 15 and above decreased from 35%-29%; and for females
aged 15 and above, the figure decreased from 56%-48%.
only 30% of people in the developing world had access to clean
drinking water in 1970, today about 80% have.
and conditions have improved as economies grow.
the US, lead concentration in the air has dropped more than 97%
since 1977. The US EPA estimates that about 22,000 deaths are
avoided every year because of the dramatic decline in lead levels.
of the Great Lakes were considered dead 30 years ago and rivers
sometimes caught fire. Today, people can swim and fish in them.
is not to denigrate those who protest and seek improvements, but to
encourage them. Once the public is alerted to the possible dangers,
then the political market adapts, politicians respond, civil society
is engaged and outputs improve. That's the basic genius of democracy
— politicians need to be elected or re-elected.
of this is to suggest that we should be happy with the current state
of the world. There is still all too much injustice. But, as a recent
IMF paper points out, in trade-opening East Asian countries — the
New Globalizers – the number of people in absolute poverty declined
by over 120 million between 1993 and 1998. On the evidence to date,
Globalisation has been good for an increasing number of people,
including, of course, workers.
problems lie in managing what is, by its nature, an ever-evolving
process. Harvard Business School's Juan Enriquez, in As the Future
Catches You, observes that 50 years ago, three-quarters of the flags,
borders, anthems and moneys represented at the UN today, simply did
not exist. And this ever-increasing number of stakeholders in the
international arena, inevitably adds to the complexity of conducting
multi-lateral relationships — as we learned to our cost in Seattle
issues facing Ministers at Doha were essentially the same as those
they failed to resolve in 1999. The major lesson learned from Seattle
was the need to strengthen the process of consensus-building that is
at the heart of the WTO's culture. At Doha, we absorbed these lessons
and successfully launched a new three-year Trade Round, with the Doha
Development Agenda at its core.
agriculture, developing countries stand to gain substantial commercial
benefits under the negotiating mandate. Currently, rich countries pay
out $1 billion a day to their farmers in agricultural subsidies; in
annual terms, that is more than four times all development assistance
going to poor nations. Negotiations will open markets, and reduce
“with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies” and
trade-distorting domestic farm support.
services, liberalization could mean gains of between 1.6% of GDP (for
India) to 4.2 % of GDP (for Thailand) if tariff equivalents of
protection were cut by one-third in all countries, according to the
World Bank. Telecommunications, finance, transport and business
services have many links to the rest of the economy and raise the
productivity of many sectors. Negotiations will liberalize the entry
of foreign services in as many domestic sectors as governments choose
and could make it easier and safer to employ foreign workers.
access for industrial goods is another immediate priority for
developing countries; two-thirds of the benefits would go to them. The
negotiating mandate focuses on reducing or eliminating tariff peaks
and escalation, in particular on products of export interest to
developing countries, as well as on non-tariff barriers.
commitment on the environment is focused on the relationship between
existing WTO rules and the trade obligations in multi-lateral
environmental agreements, and on the reduction or elimination of
tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services.
the contentious issue of drugs patents and public health, a separate
Ministerial Declaration states that the WTO's Agreement on
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, or TRIPS, does not and
should not prevent members from taking measures to protect public
health. It should be interpreted and implemented in a manner
“supportive of WTO members' right to protect public health and, in
particular, to promote access to medicines for all”.
is core to this trade round. But we should also be aware that an
investment regime is a development and good governance issue; a
transparent government procurement regime is a development and good
governance issue; a trade competition regime is a development and good
governance issue; a trade facilitation regime is a development and
good governance issue. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum
estimates that trade facilitation programs could generate additional
GDP growth of 0.25% in the Pacific region – almost double the gains
that would be generated by tariff reduction. That is why I’m seized
with such a sense of urgency. We do not have day to lose or a dollar
were also very pleased at Doha to finally complete the accession
formalities for China and Chinese Taipei. Since Seattle, about a
quarter of the world's total population – i.e. some 1.5 billion
people – have joined the WTO. On my watch we have also welcomed the
entry of Lithuania and Moldova, Jordan, Oman, Georgia, Croatia and
Albania. Another 28 countries are currently negotiating their terms of
membership, perhaps most significantly Russia, which we hope may
secure accession within the next 18 months. The WTO's multilateral
trading system is now near-universal, covering more than 97% of total
we have made a good start on the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda –
we have a new budget, a venue, a negotiating structure, chairpersons
of negotiating bodies, in place within three months of the Doha
launch. All of that took several years after the launch of the Uruguay
week, I will be attending a meeting of agency heads in Washington,
hosted by Jim Wolfensohn of the World Bank, to advance the WTO
secretariat's good work on the Integrated Framework, which brings
together all the agencies to discuss trade-related technical
assistance to LDCs.
the 27th, also in Washington, there will be a meeting under the
umbrella of the Inter-American Development Bank of all the Trade and,
hopefully, Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean to
discuss capacity-building and how resources can be most effectively
deployed. In preparatory meetings with the IDB, we suggested that
representatives of other regional banks and the secretariat of the New
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) also be invited as
observers. This will save time because we think the “model” of
cooperation, shaped to new needs, that could come out of the
Washington meeting will be an appropriate one to take to other regions
and development banks. We also hope to have a meeting in Geneva of all
the regional banks and stakeholders in April.
has been an outstanding period for the WTO, the most significant in
our brief history. We have concluded, in Doha, a successful
Ministerial Conference that has, as US Trade Representative Bob
Zoellick noted “removed the stain of Seattle”.
path to Doha was a rocky one. But I believe the road to Mexico will be
successful because of the solid foundations we are laying now. I
strongly believe that concluding a new Round is vitally important for
jobs everywhere. According to the World Bank, complete liberalization
of merchandise trade and elimination of subsidies could add US$1.5
trillion to developing country incomes. And reshaping the world's
trading system and reducing barriers to trade in goods could reduce
the number of poor in developing countries by 300 million by 2015 and
boost global income by as much as $2.8 trillion over the next decade.
are making solid progress: according to the IMF, over the past two
decades, the growth of world trade has averaged 6% annually, twice as
fast as world output.
plea to you today is not to allow the negative forces fighting against
Globalisation and market liberalisation to triumph. Now, as never
before, is the time for you to show courage on behalf of your members.
We have a profound responsibility to marshal our forces to encourage
opportunity and build institutions so that freedoms continue to grow
globally. Only then will we have our world without walls, where people
can enjoy the better life held out by those pioneers who struggled and
sacrificed for a different world.