WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

17 January 2002

Joint Ad Hoc Informal Meeting of the Integrated Framework Inter-Agency Working Group and the OECD Development Assistance Committee

Message from Mr. Mike Moore, Director-General World Trade Organization

I would like to pay tribute to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for hosting this important meeting. I would also like to salute the leadership that Secretary-General Donald Johnston has provided on trade and development issues. Trade is a key engine for growth. Institutions working on trade and development have to work more actively than ever before to ensure that trade contributes to poverty reduction and development.

The 4th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Doha last November was an outstanding success. The Ministerial Declaration established the agenda for the multilateral trading system for years to come. For the first time, Trade Ministers placed development objectives at the heart of the multilateral trading system. Doha presents the international community with a historic moment to foster trade and development cooperation and ensure that the development dimension is incorporated into the multilateral trading system.

On behalf of the WTO, I would like to pay tribute to all the agencies and OECD Members who contributed to the success of the Doha Ministerial Conference. However, beyond holding a successful Ministerial Meeting, important follow-up work must now begin. This is why the idea to hold this Joint Informal Meeting of key multilateral agencies and bilateral donors, within the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, is not only original, but timely.

The importance of adequate technical assistance and capacity-building for the meaningful participation of developing countries in the multilateral trading system is evident. It is a key component of the development dimension of the multilateral trading system. The Doha Declaration acknowledges that technical cooperation and capacity-building are essential for developing and least-developed countries to be able to implement WTO rules and obligations, and to prepare for effective participation in the work of the WTO, including in relation to future negotiations and the agreed work programme. Technical cooperation and capacity building are essential to enable developing countries and least-developed countries to benefit from the open, rules-based system. Bilateral donors and agencies share responsibility for the challenge of providing effective, coordinated technical assistance to developing and least-developed countries. The challenge of coordination and coherence amongst agencies, in this regard, must be taken seriously.

The WTO has already embarked on steps to set out the parameters of the contributions that it can make in the area of technical cooperation and capacity building. Wide scope exists for complementary action by donors and other agencies in addition to those activities, on which we must jointly embark. Since the conclusion of Doha Ministerial Conference, the WTO's activities have included:

  • First, the General Council established the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund (DDAGTF). The purpose of the Trust Fund is to provide secure and predictable resources for technical cooperation and capacity-building. An initial target of CHF 15 million has been set as the proposed core budget for this fund. A Pledging Conference for the fund will held on
    18 February 2002. I invite agencies and bilateral donors to participate in the Pledging Conference. I will be issuing formal invitations to all agencies and to Development Ministers to participate. Your participation will ensure that the WTO meets and, hopefully, exceeds the target set for the Trust Fund;

  • Second, Secretariat resources have been re-deployed to reflect the priorities of the Doha Development Agenda, particularly in the areas of development, capacity-building, mainstreaming, accessions, coherence, and out-reach. In addition to the Secretariat's existing resources that will be devoted to these efforts, I have recently appointed a senior adviser, whose functions will include coordination within the Secretariat on development and technical cooperation issues, and promoting inter-agency coherence. This appointment is key to ensuring a coherent approach to our work and cooperative efforts with other agencies and governments. I am also establishing internal mechanisms within the Secretariat to ensure proper coordination of efforts in cross-cutting areas such as the development aspects of our work and the Singapore issues. At the next Ministerial Meeting, the international community will need to be in a position to judge its efforts as to the overall level of technical assistance and capacity building offered. Such an assessment clearly must go beyond the WTO's own efforts and budget;

  • Third, in coordination with other core agencies, we have continued to build on the re-vamped Integrated Framework. It is a valuable mechanism for the necessary partnership amongst agencies, bilateral donors, and LDCs for mainstreaming trade into LDCs' development plans and their strategies for poverty reduction. It presents a valuable model for practical interaction amongst key stakeholders for achieving coherence. It encourages and facilitates agencies and donor countries to work together. It makes evident to the LDCs their own degree of responsibility on good policies and efficient resource allocation for their own development. The full potential of the IF is yet to be realized. Pilot Schemes are underway in three countries. Important lessons are being drawn. The diagnostic trade integration strategy studies are proceeding satisfactorily. However, it is clear that follow-up is essential if the revamped IF is to succeed. Ensuring follow-up and implementation of the priority recommendations for technical assistance requires leadership by bilateral donors. Donors need to ensure this leadership is given. This is an area where coordination by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD will be invaluable.

  • Fourth, the WTO has issued its Annual Plan for Technical Assistance for 2002, based on the mandates in the Doha Ministerial Declaration and in the New Strategy for WTO Technical Assistance. This will be considered by the membership at the Committee on Trade and Development (COMTD) on Tuesday 22 January. I urge bilateral donors to consider the Plan favourably. The Plan essentially contains only those activities that will be delivered by the WTO within its own competence and resources. But much more needs to be done. The purpose of drawing this Plan to your attention is provide Development Assistance Community Members with the opportunity to identify scope for collaborative delivery of technical assistance, and to show those areas where capacity-building is required but which are beyond the competence and resources of the WTO. The Plan also identifies the various levels of action, such as coordinated delivery with agencies and bilateral donors, which go well beyond what the WTO can deliver on its own.

  • Fifth, I believe that in order to fulfil its responsibilities for ensuring a coherent approach to WTO-related technical assistance and capacity building, the Secretariat needs to maintain a comprehensive data base containing information on all activities in this area undertaken by various agencies and governments. Such a data base is currently under design. It will be organized so that information can be readily shown by recipient country, by provider, and by subject area. The data base will contain information already available from certain sources, such as that pertaining to IF-sponsored activities and JITAP, and additional material will be compiled on the basis of questionnaires and other means of information-gathering. Close co-operation from donors, agencies and recipients will be essential to ensure the completeness of this information set. The information will be available to all interested parties.

This joint meeting can make significant and valuable contributions at several levels.

First, it can contribute to improve coordination and coherence, and promote cooperation between the trade and development communities. It is a necessary first step in the search for coherence. These communities need to work together and achieve coherence in policies, programmes and projects. This has not always been achieved. However, we need to respond to the coherence challenge not only for meeting the mandates from the Doha Ministerial Declaration, but also for better managing the process of globalization. Focused collaboration and partnerships are necessary if we are to accelerate the process of integrating developing countries and LDCs into the global economy.

Second, the partnership between agencies and bilateral donors is indispensable in order to adequately respond to the technical cooperation and capacity-building mandates which no one agency or individual bilateral donor can meet on its own. Technical cooperation and capacity-building are key components of the development dimension of the multilateral trading system. Developing countries and LDCs, at the WTO, consider result-oriented action, by agencies and bilateral donors, as a key test of our declared commitments for their meaningful and beneficial integration into the trading system. Declarations and commitments are no longer enough. Results are required.

Third, it is important that there is collective support by agencies and bilateral donors for the trade liberalization negotiations that were launched at Doha. The potential gains from these negotiations are significant. Support by agencies and bilateral donors, working together to provide trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building and negotiation-focused analysis, will enhance the capacity of developing and least-developed countries to meaningfully participate in the negotiations, and also make it possible for them to be able to reap the benefits of the open, rules-based multilateral trading system. WTO Members will require assistance in several priority areas such as mainstreaming trade priority areas of action into development plans and strategies for poverty reduction, trade policy capacity-building, support for the development of trade negotiating capacity, drafting of domestic legislation for acceding countries, and support for implementation. Another key area where developing and LDCs have conveyed an urgent need for technical assistance is infrastructure-type technical assistance. A principal reason low income developing countries have not benefitted as much as they should have from the trading system is their inability to generate supply-side responses for export of goods and supply of services. This is an area where delivery of TA would be beneficial particularly by the agencies and bilateral donor countries who can do so.

Fourth, overcoming inter-agency rivalries, and overcoming competitive donor behaviour in the establishment of trust funds and project financing, should be important objectives of this meeting. Agencies have their own distinct institutional mandates and donor countries are influenced by various domestic imperatives. But the message from Ministers at Doha is the need for greater coherence, enhanced coordination and tangible results. The measure by which agencies and donor countries will be judged will be effective coordinated action, with concrete results, on programmes and projects. Agencies and bilateral donors will need to show that the tempo for the integration of developing and LDCs into the trading system and the global economy has increased, and that levels are on the decline.

The technical cooperation and capacity-building mandates in the Doha Ministerial Declaration are extensive. Meeting these mandates will require extensive coordination by agencies, donors and beneficiary countries also. Agencies and donors need to define their own plans for technical cooperation and capacity-building and link them to the larger overall coordinated architecture for meeting the Doha mandates.

Finally, this first-ever Joint Ad Hoc DAC/IAWG Informal Meeting has an extensive agenda. It has created high expectations in the trade, development and finance community. Much is expected. I hope that over the next two days this meeting will achieve tangible results that can be announced to developing and least-developed countries. Above all, the results of this meeting need to show that agencies, bilateral donors, and the different communities can overcome perennial divides and facilitate the successful integration of developing and LDCs into the global economy. Continuity needs to be demonstrated. Even as we seek to avoid routine, this should not be a one-off meeting. The periodic continuation of these meetings could have signficant benefits for coherence and coordinated trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building.

Thank you.