WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

2 January 2002

Moore pledges to build on Doha success in 2002

The following text is Director-General Mike Moore's informal new year's message to Member Governments and staff and his proposals for action in 2002.

ďLast year was truly an outstanding year for the World Trade Organization, perhaps the most significant in our brief history. But we havenít the time to reflect on last yearís achievements, because Ministers at our highly successful Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, have given us much to do and not much time in which to do it. Doha was where we as an organization ďremoved the stain of Seattle,Ē as U.S. Trade Representative Bob Zoellick put it, but now we must maintain the Ministerial momentum launched at that conference and build on its success.

I think weíve made a very good start. There were those who speculated that it may take six months to choose the venue for our next Ministerial Conference in 2003. It took one meeting of our General Council. Much behind the scenes work took place and itís never easy to gain a consensus among 144 governments, but last month, our Member Governments agreed that Mexico would host us next year. Iím delighted. This means our hosts can begin their preparations immediately.

We have also seen our members approve a significant increase in our budget to CHF 143 million (an increase of 6.75%) and we will be able to increase our spending on technical assistance in 2002 by around 80%. We have shifted and re-deployed some of our Secretariat staff to better serve the intentions spelled out by Ministers in Doha.

All of these steps are necessary because the far-reaching set of negotiations launched in Doha, must be completed within a three-year timeframe. With the launch of the Doha Development Agenda we have placed development issues and the interests of our poorer Members at the heart of our work.

Last year was also one in which we have welcomed more than a quarter of the world's population into our membership from Lithuania, Moldova, China and Chinese Taipei. I am confident that we can make solid progress with our 28 other accession candidates in 2002. I am asked often about the timetable for Russia. Iíve been saying that I expect Russia to take her seat as a member by the time of our conference in Mexico, but I think we can do better than that. We have a core group of Ministers, including Bob Zoellick and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy who have the willpower, the horsepower and the firepower to move this accession along quickly and smoothly. President Putin and Minister Medvedkov have extended great commitment and effort to bring Russia into the WTO and we could see Russia becoming a member well before people expect. Iím hopeful that other important nations including Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Ukraine can progress this year as well.

2001 was a year of important lessons and new insights. The Doha success was built on a preparatory process that was transparent and inclusive. We must carry these principles into our future work. In 2002 we will ensure all our Members, large and small, rich and poor, are given every assistance and opportunity to participate in our negotiations. Ministers have told me they want to be engaged so they can continue to guide our agenda forward.

At the conclusion of the 4th Ministerial Conference, I said that while the Doha Development Agenda was launched out of mutual self-interest, for many resource-constrained Member countries it was also a brave act of faith, trust and hope. I believe Members have already begun to deliver on this faith.

One example of this is the Secretariat budget for 2002. Itís a budget which closely reflects the priorities identified by Ministers in Doha, including in such key areas as technical cooperation and capacity-building, coherence, advancing accessions and doing a better job of explaining ourselves to those who pay our bills, the outside world. In addition to the 6.75% increase in the budget, highlights include:

  • establishment of the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund with a proposed core budget of CHF 15 million to provide secure and predictable resources to build capacity,

  • additional funding to allow us to double the number of trainees from developing countries who can attend the recently established WTO Training Institute,

  • additional funds of CHF850,000 for translation services which is in addition to the CHF1.5 million given last year; this addresses a long-standing grievance from some non-English speaking Member delegations,

  • approval to take on 8 new staff in key areas identified by Ministers; more short-term staff will be contracted once the DDA Global Trust Fund brings more resources on line, and

  • funding to enable us to continue to run the Geneva Week programme in 2002, assisting non-resident Member officials to participate more fully in the work of the WTO.

This is a good budget and an important first step. It is focused and balanced and helps us to deliver on the promise of Doha. But much remains to be done to ensure the next Ministerial Conference is a success and the new negotiations are concluded within the three-year timeframe. My duty is clear: to ensure the Secretariat's activities are aimed at assisting Members to undertake and conclude their negotiations. I must also ensure our resources match our collective ambitions. I have taken important steps already in this regard:

  • Secretariat resources have been re-deployed to reflect the priorities of the Doha Development Agenda, particularly in areas of development, capacity-building, accessions, coherence and outreach. Efficiency gains and cost savings are being introduced. We will also review matters further in light of decisions taken by Members on the trade negotiating machinery.

  • I am establishing a Resource and Performance Analysis function in the Secretariat so we can regularly and routinely monitor our performance against agreed objectives. A report will be prepared on how this new function will operate.

  • I will be commissioning work on how to make the Secretariat a better working environment for staff. I want to look at issues of working conditions, career development, tenure, recruitment and promotion processes, and ways to reward innovation and efficiency gains.

  • The Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration has suggested a report on staffing issues and I look forward also to commissioning this important work.

In terms of the roadmap ahead, I am taking other steps as well to ensure the Secretariat's work builds on the momentum from Doha and towards the next Ministerial Conference:

  • I have been communicating with key groups in Geneva. Immediately following Doha I met with Ambassadors from Arab countries to discuss our Arab Strategy. I have met recently with Geneva-based representatives of acceding countries and have communicated with their Ministers. We are increasing our resources in this area, in line with the Doha outcomes, and I have invited delegations to give me ideas for accelerating their accession processes. We are also increasing our efforts in favour of Least Developed Countries and economies in transition. Once again, I have written to their Missions seeking advice and guidance.

  • We are preparing a programme of activities for 2002 that will give heightened attention to particular regions. For example, we are planning major initiatives in coordination with other institutions in the Balkans and Central Asia. These areas have regrettably not been given adequate attention in the past.

  • Direct contact is always important. My staff tell me I have travelled over 625,000 km and visited more than 180 cities in the past 2 years. This is necessary work. I will continue to visit capitals and seek guidance from Ministers. Early in the new year I am planning a series of missions including to the United States, Africa and Oman.

  • We are investigating other innovative ways to keep Ministers fully engaged and involved. In addition to personal contacts, telephone calls and regular mailings, we may shortly run a series of videoconferences.

  • We will be focusing more closely on issues of coherence so we can produce models of cooperation and synergies with other institutions better suited to deliver fair results since Doha. I have already met with representatives of international agencies based in Geneva and I will continue to pursue coherence issues when I meet with heads of agencies in the United States early next year. I am also looking to reinforce our staff resources in this area. Of course, coherence is an issue that needs to be pursued by all stakeholders. Those seeking assistance need to be more specific about their needs. Donors need to better coordinate their own efforts both in capitals and amongst each other. The same is true of international agencies. Duplication and wastage is costly, not only in financial terms but in precious time and credibility.

  • We have been asked to do better, and be more creative, in our dealings with wider society including groups such as parliamentarians. I will be looking at this early in 2002. We are already planning a major Symposium in May which will address the concerns expressed by some Ministers at Doha on our relations with the public. Already, useful suggestions for the agenda of this Symposium are emerging. They include development issues such as Trade and Debt, Trade and Finance and the impact of technology and the digital divide; issues of participation and the problems of capacity constrained missions; the functioning and financing of the WTO; external relations; issues of social justice and the social, economic, environmental and political impacts of globalisation. Much more consideration needs to be done before our agenda is finalized. However, the serious studies being undertaken by my group of Eminent Advisors could be very useful input.

Members too must create momentum. I believe early agreement is needed on the details of the structure for dealing with the work programme from Doha. Also, despite urgings by many Ministers and considerable effort over the past few years, little movement has been achieved on issues such as derestriction of documents and observership. More focus on these types of issues might assist in building momentum.

All of the new initiatives and actions I have discussed, and which are based on the Doha Development Agenda, do not detract from the core business of this Organization. It reinforces this critical work. However, because of the commitment of Ministers and Ambassadors, I think we can now claim with confidence that we have truly given birth to the WTO. It is now not the old GATT with a few, symbolic gestures to the new global realities, but better reflects the new needs of our wider membership and instructions from Ministers.