WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

Palais des Nations, Geneva, 25 June 2002

Special event at the UNDP 2002 executive board meeting

Contributions of the Doha Development Agenda to Development: Remarks by Mr. Mike Moore, Director-General, WTO

It is a great pleasure to have this opportunity to address the UNDP Executive Board 2002. UNDP and the other agencies represented here today are important partners for the WTO. In many areas, we already work closely together. Our challenge is to improve on this partnership to better assist countries to participate successfully in the multilateral trading system. At Doha last year, Ministers gave the WTO an important new negotiating mandate. The Doha Development Agenda calls for a far-reaching set of negotiations to be completed within 3 years. With this Agenda, Members have placed development issues and the interests of our poorer members at the heart of our work. One key to success will thus be technical assistance and capacity building — helping poorer members to integrate into the trading system and to participate fully in the negotiations.

Members have since acted decisively and I would like to highlight some key aspects of our Doha Development Agenda-related technical assistance work programme:

  • 30 million Swiss Francs has been pledged towards the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund;

  • Members have endorsed the Coordinated WTO Secretariat Annual Technical Assistance Plan 2002;

  • 17 new WTO fast-track positions geared exclusively to the delivery of technical assistance have been filled;

  • A new work programme for the least-developed countries has been adopted;

  • Following an initial dialogue, a new strategic partnership with regional development banks and the World Bank is being explored;

  • Important work is underway in cooperation with the OECD, on the creation of a Doha Development Agenda Trade-Related Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Database (DDADB). I have invited donors, agencies, regional banks and other countries to provide information on their respective activities by 31 July 2002. This information will be verified, consolidated and uploaded to the database, which will provide an inventory of all existing trade-related technical assistance. This inventory will be accessible on-line via the Internet by October. May I urge you to respond positively to this request for information. Once established, the inventory will help us to improve coordination and increase our efficiency ;

  • A number of Regional Ministerial Trade Conferences, particularly focused on mainstreaming trade into national development plans and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), has been organised. The first was organized for the Latin American and Caribbean region by the Inter-American Development Bank with the collaboration of the WTO, in June last year. Joint meetings between trade and finance ministers, in one single forum, have proved to be essential in enhancing mutual understanding, effectively implementing WTO Agreements and ensuring that trade works for development;

  • Ministerial Trade Conferences were recently held for Central Asian and Caucasus countries, and for Central and South East Europe. Never before has the WTO Secretariat organised high-level meetings of this kind in these regions. Economies in transition face particular challenges in integrating into the multilateral trading system. The conference provided a unique opportunity for these countries to meet and exchange views on technical assistance priorities, and to provide guidance to the WTO Secretariat and other agencies.

We have also expanded our training activities, which are complementary to WTO technical assistance. In this regard, I should highlight two important WTO training initiatives. One relates to the Doha Development Agenda-related training of trade negotiators from developing countries and economies in transition. A total of 11 of such courses have been designed. Implementation is underway. The first of these two-week courses was organized in June in collaboration with the Organization of American States and Georgetown University in Washington for the benefit of Latin American and Caribbean countries. Additional courses of this kind will be organized in the second semester of 2003 for Africa, Arab countries and Central and Eastern Europe respectively.

The second training initiative is one to which I attach great importance. The objective is to expand the prestigious three-month trade policy courses, delivered in Geneva by the WTO Training Institute, into the regions. The concept is a simple one. The WTO Training Institute will help universities in developing countries establish and deliver trade policy courses, similar to those conducted in Geneva, to government officials locally. The first of these three-month courses will be held in Africa this July at the University of Nairobi in Kenya for English-speaking African countries, and at the University of Casablanca in Morocco for French-speaking African countries. It is essential that Ministers of developing, least-developed and transition economy countries attend the next Ministerial Conference accompanied by staff competent and proficient in WTO matters. These training courses will help build the requisite human resources of developing countries. I am confident this idea will travel. Other countries have already demonstrated considerable interest in setting up similar courses in their leading universities. I have received expressions of interest from the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.

All of you are familiar with the Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance for the Least-Developed Countries (LDCs). I am convinced that we are on the right track. The on-going pilot-project countries range from satisfactory to very good, witness the outstanding success in Cambodia, and the decent progress being made in Mauritania. However, I need to underscore that the task of following-up on the Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies is a major challenge. Lead donor countries of the DAC/OECD, and agencies in a position to do so now need to respond with speed and urgency. With your support we can achieve even more progress on the IF.

Let me stress that much remains to be done to consolidate our collaboration and to bring it to new levels. Agencies and donors also need to focus assistance to other developing countries - particularly the low income economies - as well as economies in transition, who also present enormous challenges and opportunities. The WTO Secretariat is neither the only nor the major instrument available in the international community for trade-related technical assistance and capacity building. Large scope for coordinated work exists. Time is short and resources limited, we need to ensure that we continually strive to improve on past efforts.

I would like to conclude with a reminder of why we are making all these efforts. What's at stake in the Doha Development Agenda negotiations? There is no need to dwell on this in such distinguished and experienced company, but I will give some examples :

  • Cutting barriers to trade in agriculture, manufacturing and services by a third could boost the world economy by US$613 billion. That's like adding an economy the size of Canada to the world economy.

  • Abolishing all trade barriers could boost global income by $US2.8 trillion and lift 320 million people out of poverty by 2015.

  • In development terms, the elimination of all tariff and non-tariff barriers could result in gains for developing countries in the order of $182 billion in the services sector, $162 billion in manufactures and $32 billion in agriculture.

  • OECD agricultural subsidies in dollar terms are two-thirds of Africa's total GDP. Abolishing these subsidies could return three times all the ODA put together to developing countries. Kofi Annan wants $10 billion to fight Aids; that is just 12 days subsidies.

  • All seven of the UN Millennium Development goals — in health, education, poverty, etc — would require US $54 billion annually, — just one third the estimate of developing country gains from trade liberalisation.

  • For those concerned about the poor in developed countries, in US, EU and Japan for example, studies show that import tariffs are lowest on industrial supplies and luxury goods marketed to wealthy and middle class families and highest on cheaper goods that poor families buy.

  • For those concerned about the world's poorest countries, studies show the extent to which trade barriers and tariffs of rich countries work against them. Let me share one example from a book I read recently. Mongolians and Norwegians both paid the US about $23 million in tariffs last year. But Mongolia exported $143 million and Norway $5.2 billion, or 40 times as much. In effect, Mongolians paid 16 cents to sell the US a dollar's worth of sweaters and suits, while the Norwegians paid half a cent for every dollar's worth of gourmet smoke salmon, jet engine parts and North Sea crude.

The Doha Development Agenda will help define international trading relations and development for the first part of this new century. Trade is an important component of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and much of our work will fold neatly into its priorities. The Doha Development Agenda and trade will also play an important role in the upcoming Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. Our job is to help countries realise the enormous benefits offered by the Doha Development Agenda.