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12 September 2002
Statement by the Director-General to the General Council

DG Supachai pledges ôbest effortö to WTO ambassadors

Mr. Chairman, Delegates and Friends

First of all let me say how pleased and honoured I feel to join you as Director-General. I very much appreciate your kind, thoughtful words, Mr. Chairman, to welcome me on behalf of all of you.

I have long been associated with this organization in various capacities. The feeling that I have since the first morning when I started my work at the office, is not that I am starting something new. It is like, as you Mr. Chairman have just said, coming back home to family. I have also carefully placed my family very close to the office so that both my family here and my family at home will always be in close touch and I will never be far from both.

Because of this long association, I have long been committed to the causes that we have been fighting for. Sometimes we seem to be too much on the defensive. Sometimes we become a bit elated because of newly gained victories, but I have and will never underestimate the task that is ahead of us. I know that I can count on your understanding, your experience, your commitment, as much as you can count on my total input, my total dedication to the same causes.

I fully realize that this is a Member-driven organization, and I will have to be very careful not to try to drive along with you, or to be in the driver's seat. But I hope that with your kind permission and understanding that you will allow me to help make the driving easier. Together, we can navigate the dangerous curves and bends to reach our common goals. I hope, as colleagues and friends, you will give me your valuable advice if I overstep the line. But if I ever do that, please believe me that I will never intend to overstep it. But I might become over-enthusiastic, along with you, to solve the problems at hand. So, please allow me the chance to provide my best effort, to help us move forward.

As we move into an increasingly globalizing world, I am more than ever convinced that we need the services of an Organization such as ours. We will be needing a larger degree of openness and predictability. We will be needing more understanding, consultations, negotiations and amicable arrangements so that we can ride out all the disagreements and disputes that will be there. Amidst this diversity, we shall flourish, we shall accomplish our task because we have the same set of rules and we have set our sights on similar objectives.

I have made known repeatedly in the past the principles that I have set for myself in the next three years. I will only repeat these four principles briefly because we will have a chance to discuss them in greater detail later on.

First, I will be most serious in working as the Chair of the TNC, which I feel is a great honour, to help you all bring the Doha Development Agenda to a timely and successful conclusion. Secondly, I will make my best effort to pursue an effective programme of technical cooperation and capacity-building which is close to the hearts of all our Members. Thirdly, because I see that the WTO cannot possibly achieve its goals working alone in a vacuum, I will try to promote greater coherence in international economic policy-making along with our colleagues in other international agencies. And, lastly, together with the professional staff of high calibre that I have working with me in the Secretariat, we shall try to strengthen this institution so that we may be able to serve the membership even better.

Let me end by saying something about the tasks immediately ahead of us. The Doha Development Agenda has a tight schedule and time is running very fast. A lot of events that are taking place at the same time will demand our attention. We have deadlines to meet and only one year from now we have the Fifth Ministerial Conference, at which point we need to show real progress in our negotiations. To be assured of a final successful outcome, we need to make substantial progress in the lead-up to the Canc˙n meeting.

I am fully aware that a successful outcome for the Doha negotiations can only be achieved through agreement on a balanced package which can offer gains to a wide spectrum of participants. I see my role in helping to achieve this goal, this result, by facilitating the process of building up consensus to reach the final stage. I pledge to you that in order to reach that stage, as Chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee and as Director-General, I shall be working as actively as possible with the Chairs of the Negotiating Groups so that we can together help to resolve any issues that will need my input, and so that we can map our strategies to reach the final consensus for the realization of the Doha agenda. You can count on me for an equitable, balanced, transparent and inclusive approach as we map out the strategy to reach our goals. I believe that it is only through partnership between the Members and the Secretariat that we can achieve a final successful result.

Mr. Chairman, I realize the central importance of the General Council in the WTO system and the heavy workload that it is facing. I admire the energy and commitment with which you, Mr. Chairman, have devoted to resolving a number of long-standing and difficult issues. I promise you my full support in your efforts and I intend to keep up a very close and cooperative relationship with you and indeed with all Chairs of WTO bodies who are doing a great job for this system.

May I also say that I look forward to meeting with the various groups of Members which I know exist. I shall be trying to make suitable arrangements in this rather hectic programme in the beginning of my tenure to meet with all the requests for meetings as much as I can.

Lastly, let me say that I particularly welcome your initiative, Mr. Chairman, in organizing an informal retreat for Permanent Representatives next month. I look forward to taking part and to providing some thoughts that I hope will meet with your kind consideration. I am sure that this event will be a significant step in increasing the contact and trust among us all, which will be so important in meeting the challenges ahead.

Thank you.