Thank you for
the invitation to join the meeting today. At this juncture in time, I
cannot emphasise enough how much we need the ongoing trade negotiations
under the Doha Development Agenda to be concluded successfully and on
time, which is by January 1, 2005. There are four compelling reasons for
urgency in the negotiations. The first is clearly the warning signals
from the IMF of the slow world economic recovery, and the uncertainty in
economic conditions around the world.
The second reason is the situation in the trade sphere itself. In 2001,
for the first time in two decades, the volume of trade contracted by 1
percent. Last year, although trade flows expanded by 2.5 percent, this
was still below the average trade expansion in the 1990s of around 6.5
percent per year. These figures indicate that we are not doing too well
on the trade front.
The third is the increasing spread and popularity of bilateral and
regional trade arrangements around the world. At present, there are
about 300 bilateral and regional trade arrangements, about 250 of which
have been notified to the World Trade Organization. These arrangements
raise difficult issues, not just about their compliance with WTO rules ,
but also about the use of resources. If I may say, some of these
regional and bilateral arrangements are taking away the resources and
the efforts needed to concentrate and press ahead with our multilateral
The last and fourth point is the need for the trade round to succeed so
as to guarantee more market access, particularly for developing and
least developed countries. Greater market access will help these
countries to achieve the economic growth needed to meet, at least, the
targeted Millennium Development Goals.
We have come, nearly, to the mid-term point of our negotiations. Let me
recall, this trade round has been mandated to complete its negotiations
in totality in three years’ time. The timing is very tight, and we have
already used up nearly half of the time.
Let me give you my assessment of the on-going work from both positive
and negative angles, and then I will conclude with what I believe we
should be trying to do.
In spite of all the criticisms and negative reports you may have heard,
there are some positive elements to the work we have been doing. First,
for the first time, after eight previous trade rounds - we are seeing in
this ninth round full engagement from almost all the members, developed
and developing alike. From the developing country side, for instance, we
are seeing very keen involvement and very active participation in all
aspects of our negotiations.
Second, ambitious proposals are being made in the negotiations. In
agriculture, we have very strong and ambitious proposals. In
non-agricultural market access, this is the manufacturing negotiations,
we have on the table proposals aimed at achieving zero tariffs. We are
also seeing, for the first time, full participation in the services
negotiations. This is an important sign given the complexity of these
negotiations, particularly for developing countries. On the part of the
Secretariat, we are doing our best to provide developing countries with
the assistance they need to enable them to participate fully in the
Third, since this round is a comprehensive round, we are dealing not
only with market access negotiations, but also with negotiations on
trade rules, subsidy rules, trade remedy rules, countervailing duty
rules, and also the new rules that will be discussed at the Ministerial
Conference. The rules negotiations have been going on track,
particularly in the area of anti-dumping. These negotiations are of
great interest to all countries concerned, not only to developed
countries. Developing countries are also actively involved in the rules
A large number of proposals have been put on the table in the area of
dispute settlement, which is going through a review process at the same
time as the Doha negotiations. I am pleased to say that the dispute
settlement review is being conducted with the full engagement of WTO
The last positive point that I would like to mention is that the
trade-related technical assistance programs, that the WTO has been
mandated by the members to extend, are on track. Last year, we extended
at least 430 technical assistance programs, mainly targeted at countries
in Africa and groups of small and least developed countries. This year,
we are going to embark upon another 400 programs, and we hope that,
before we go into the second half of our negotiations, at least every
member will be able to come to the negotiating table fully informed on
what they are going to negotiate for.
On the negative side, we are seeing, firstly, increasing frustration
amongst many delegations that almost all the deadlines have been missed.
One of the most important deadlines that we have just missed is the
end-March deadline for the agreement on the modalities for agricultural
liberalization. This is worrying. But, at the same time, as you know,
most trade rounds do miss their deadlines. What we need to keep
constantly in mind is the target of the final deadline, which is the end
The second negative element is that many developing countries are making
and echoing some complaints that the attention they expected to be paid
to the key development issues, since this is meant to be a development
agenda, has yet to materialize. As you know, we have missed the deadline
on an agreement on intellectual property rights and access to medicines.
At the end of last year, we also missed the deadline on special and
differential treatment, as well as the deadline on the so-called
implementation-related issues, which are of importance to developing
countries facing difficulties in implementing the Uruguay Round
One thing that members did complete at the end of last year was to agree
to facilitate the procedures by which LDCs accede to the WTO. The good
news is that, for the first time since the WTO was created in 1995, we
could be in a position to welcome by the next Ministerial Conference the
accession of an LDC. I hope this will go on track and we are working
very hard to achieve this result.
The fifth negative element is in the area of agriculture. As you all
know, agriculture remains the linchpin of the round. At the moment, we
are seeing positions on agriculture that are still very, very far apart,
and there is no convergence in sight. We continue to work very hard on
agriculture, as well as other areas of the negotiations, such as
manufacturing and services. However, we are not seeing enough real
negotiations taking place amongst the Members. At the last Trade
Negotiations Committee Meeting that I chaired, countries still read out
their initial positions. I believe that this needs to change. We need
more flexibility and urgency from members in the very short time we
have. Otherwise, I fear that we may not meet the final deadline.
The final point on the negative side is that missed deadlines are
postponing the handling of many of the key issues that Ministers will
have to deal with at the Ministerial Meeting in Cancun this September.
Members are taking the risk of overloading the Cancún agenda.
At Cancún, which is an important part of the work process, we will be
discussing some key issues. First, we have Singapore issues, which
encompass transparency in government procurement, trade facilitation,
multilateral rules on investment and multilateral rules on competition.
Second, we have modalities on all market access negotiations —
agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Key development issues are the
third. These include TRIPS and Public Health, special and differential
treatment and implementation issues . There is hope on all sides that
they will be agreed upon before we go to Cancún, otherwise it might
preoccupy the Ministerial Conference and bring Cancún into disarray. The
fourth issue to be discussed in Cancún is the road map until the end of
2004 to determine the final state of the round.
What WTO members need to do at the moment is to reaffirm their
commitment to the Doha mandate. We need to prepare ourselves very
meticulously for Mexico to be efficient and to be effective in
determining the last phase of this round.
There are a few points that I would like to leave with you. First, we
will try to continue our work; we would not be discouraged, although
many countries have been echoing their disappointment and the threat
that they might engage in negative linkages. In other words, that if
they do not see improvement in certain areas, they will stop working in
other areas. I am trying to urge all delegations to be engaged on all
fronts. We need to increase the stakes on some fronts so that the stakes
in other fronts can also be accordingly increased. Even if agriculture
has not progressed as quickly as members might wish, we need to move as
rapidly ahead as possible on services, on manufacturing, and on rules.
We need to maintain work on all fronts, and we need to maintain what I
would call positive linkages.
The second point is political input. Over the last year and a half, work
on the negotiations have mainly been conducted by heads of delegations -
Ambassadors in Geneva. The technical analysis has been done. We know how
to balance the round, we know where we should reduce tariffs or
subsidies. But, we now need the political input and political will to
move towards the final process. On agriculture, for instance, we are
talking about numbers, how far and how long we can go in reducing
certain subsidies. This discussion needs the involvement of capitals.
While I am trying to involve capitals, the major capitals around the
world must also involve themselves more intensively in the negotiations.
We need the involvement not only of trade ministers, but also of
governments, finance ministers, industry ministers and development
The third issue is agriculture. There is a general consensus at the
Trade Negotiations Committee Meeting that if there is no movement in
agriculture, the round will not move. More than 50 developing countries
depend for more than half of their foreign exchange income on
agriculture. Moreover, for many developing countries agriculture
accounts for a rather substantial share of employment . Something needs
to be done to reform the subsidies that advanced economies give to their
agriculture sector. These subsidies collectively amount to US$1 billion.
If agriculture does not move and remains stalled up until Cancún, we may
have great difficulties in advancing other parts of our negotiations. We
will have to keep a close eye on how the agriculture negotiations
develop over the coming months. For the moment, work continues in the
agriculture negotiations and further technical analysis is being
conducted. Hopefully, by Mexico we can agree on all modalities on the
three market access issues — agriculture, manufacturing, and services.
Fourth, we need support, as I have said, from all institutions.
Developing countries have voiced their concerns about the financial
burden of of implementing WTO agreements and of undertaking the reforms
and adjustments that come with trade liberalization. We need the full
support of the IMF and the World Bank. Developing countries need to feel
assured that the adjustments and reforms that they will have to
undertake, to implement the agreements resulting from the Doha
negotiations, will be adequately supported by the Bank and the Fund.
My last point is that we cannot let the final deadline slip. There are
some countries that are beginning to say that if we want to have a good
round, we will need more time. I have not seen good rounds that can be
arrived at by using too much time. Nobody knows what will happen after
the full period of negotiations has elapsed. Nobody knows how world
economic conditions will be after 2005. So, we need to meet the final
deadline. Although it is January 2005, in reality we need, by the middle
of 2004, to have at least 80-90 percent of the package to be able to
assess whether we can reach 100 percent of the package by the end of
2004. To achieve this result, we must avoid talking of extending the
final deadline of the round.