WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

22 January 2002

Moore meets ministers, senior officials in Doha follow-up

WTO Director-General Mike Moore has met with a number of ministers and senior officials in recent days in an effort to ensure an effective start to the work programme agreed at the Doha Ministerial Conference.

These discussions have focussed principally on the smooth launch of negotiations, maintaining Ministerial involvement in the work programme and the co-ordinated programme of capacity building and technical assistance for developing countries.

In recent days Mr. Moore has met five ministers; Mexican Secretary for the Economy Luis Ernesto Derbez, South Korean Trade Minister Hwang Doo-Yun, European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, Canadian Minister of Commerce Pierre Pettigrew and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. He will also be meeting senior officials from India, Japan and Pakistan in the coming days. The Director-General will have contact with more ministers as they come through Geneva in the coming weeks and will meet a dozen or more ministers when he attends the World Economic Forum meeting in New York next week.

The Director-General and several senior Secretariat staff met with Mr. Derbez and his team on 20 January to brief the Minister on various elements involved in hosting a Ministerial Conference. At the General Council meeting on 19-20 December, Member Governments agreed that Mexico would host the 5th Ministerial Conference in 2003. Mr. Derbez will be the conference chairman and he came to Geneva to begin the process of preparation for that meeting. Mr. Derbez also took the opportunity to meet with delegations, regional groups and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

“Minister Derbez and his team have begun preparing for this Ministerial Conference nearly two years in advance of the meeting. This has never happened before. By ensuring adequate time for preparation, Member Governments have done a great service to the WTO,” Mr. Moore said.

Mr. Moore said it was vital that the Trade Negotiations Committee, which holds its first meeting on 28 January, gets off to a good start. Failure to ensure a sound negotiating structure or to choose committee chairpersons soon would result in delays that cannot be afforded if WTO Member Governments are to conclude the Doha Development Agenda negotiations by the 1 January 2005 deadline mandated at the Ministerial Conference.

“We have done well since Doha in choosing a Ministerial Conference venue, in approving a 6.75% increase in our budget and in effectively re-deploying Secretariat staff to better implement the instructions given by Ministers. Now Member Governments have to get the negotiations off to a good start. If they do this, we can meet the 2005 deadline, but delays at the beginning over process and procedures will make it very difficult to carry out the wishes of Ministers,” he said.

Capacity building and technical co-operation were also discussed in each meeting. The 2002 budget approved in December will enable the WTO to increase by 80% its expenditure this year on technical assistance and to double its capacity at the Training Institute.

“It is vitally important that we work together with other international organizations to ensure an efficient allocation of precious resources. Through a sound programme of coherence international organizations can leverage funds more effectively. We do not want an overlap in our technical co-operation efforts,” Mr. Moore said.

The Director-General said next month there would be a pledging conference of countries donating to the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund.