the course of this Ministerial Conference, 142 governments will shape
the future of the global trading system in the 21st century. Itís no
exaggeration to say that what ministers decide here in the next few
days, will determine whether the World Trade Organization remains at
the centre of trade policy concerns over the next few years.
have said that if the WTO fails to embark on an ambitious work
programme here in Doha that the organization will be consigned to
hibernation or become irrelevant.
donít agree with that. We will still be the most important global
arbiter of commercial disputes between nations, we will still provide
technical assistance and training to governments hungry to participate
more extensively in the global trading system and we will still
conduct the important Trade Policy Reviews.
I believe itís true that the trade focus in many nations will shift
away from Geneva if we fall short of success in Doha. Iíve said it
many times because I believe it: trade liberalization negotiations
will take place next year, the only question is whether they are
conducted, bilaterally, regionally or multilaterally.
trade agreements can make an important contribution to the global
economy, but they are no substitute for a multilateral system of
non-discriminatory trade rules. At a time when global cooperation is
as important as it has ever been, a failure to improve one of the most
important pillars of the international architecture would be not only
unfortunate but dangerous.
from the need to strengthen the system and the organization, there is
the obvious need to send signals of confidence to a world in which the
largest economies all face the prospect of recession. The last time
that the European Union, Japan and the United States were all in
recession together was in 1975. The economic vitality of these three
members matters a great deal and not just to those who live there.
When the big economies contract it means fewer exports from the
developing world and less foreign direct investment to poor countries.
This will mean fewer jobs in developing countries and lower prospects
of raising living standards.
to launch an ambitious work programme in Doha will not have immediate
consequences for the global economy. But it will send a very strong
signal that the WTO member governments are aware of the need for
action on issues that are of great importance to our citizens.
all our member governments favour embarking on an ambitious work
programme and I have been criticized for calling on members to begin a
broad-based work programme at Doha. I accept differences of view on
this point, but itís important not to lose sight of the fact that on
matters of real substance, the only way to change the rules and
workings of the WTO is through negotiations. This is, after all, a
developing countries say they have not received all the benefits they
expected from the Uruguay Round and that the WTO should do better for
them, I agree. But does anyone seriously believe that we will get
substantive changes to our rules on agriculture, textiles or trade
remedies through any avenue other than negotiations?
need to face up to the fact that there are things in our organization
that could work better. Not all our critics are wrong. This
organization needs to do more to assist poor countries through market
access and increased technical assistance. We need to do a better job
of assuring our peoples that WTO rules are not a threat to the
preservation of the environment. We need to work to reduce imbalances
in a global agricultural system which results in rich countries
spending roughly $1 billion a day in subsidies which are often
wasteful and trade distorting. Reducing these subsidies and paring
back the barriers to imports from developing countries would result in
benefits to the developing countries equal to three times the level of
Official Development Assistance provided by rich countries.
we need to look at the way the organization is run. As superb as the
dispute settlement system is, it has some problems which need to be
addressed. The banana dispute has highlighted the need to address how
and when a member government can retaliate against another for failure
to implement a ruling from the Dispute Settlement Body. We need to
examine ways in which developing countries can participate more fully
in the benefits of the dispute settlement system.
also need to serve our member governments better through a system of
technical assistance that is adequately financed. Our current budget
covers only a fraction of our technical assistance costs and the
remainder must be made up through trust fund contributions. I
appreciate the generosity of those members that have contributed to
these trust funds. But without adequate resources in the core budget,
we cannot properly plan our technical assistance activities beyond the
current year. We need to find ways of addressing the development
deficit through enhanced training and programmes which bring those
governments that cannot afford offices in Geneva more into the fold.
all members are fully engaged in the process of negotiating and feel
confident that they comprehensively understand the issues, we run the
risk of creating new implementation problems in the future. Any
negotiations that are launched in Doha cannot be completed if some
members feel marginalized from the process and the way to address this
problem is through more and better targeted technical assistance.
have no illusions as to the challenge ahead. Finding a satisfactory
compromise on issues like implementation, patentability of essential
medicines, agriculture, the environment, investment and competition
will not be easy to achieve. But find it we must, because the price of
failure is too high.