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General Council, 15 December 2000

Actions to increase the participation of developing country Members in the work of relevant international standard-setting organizations

Oral Report by the Director-General Council

In response to the request from the General Council that I explore with the relevant standard-setting organizations and other intergovernmental organizations financial and technical mechanisms to assist the participation of developing countries in standard-setting organizations, I want to report on the actions I have taken to date. My full report is contained in document WT/GC/42, so I will summarize the main points.

In November, I sent letters to the three standard-setting organizations relevant to the SPS Agreement, inviting them to a meeting at the Deputy Directors-General level to discuss how to increase participation of developing countries in their standard-setting activities. At the same meeting, we will discuss how we can most effectively coordinate our technical assistance efforts to best address the needs of developing countries. The organizations invited to this meeting with Mr. Rodriguez are: FAO, WHO and the international animal health organization (OIE). The meeting is tentatively scheduled for 7 February 2001.

At the same time, I sent letters to the organizations which have observer status in the TBT Committee, inviting them to a separate meeting, also at the level of Deputy Directors-General, to discuss the same issues in the context of the TBT Agreement. The organizations invited to this meeting with Mr. Ravier are: FAO, WHO, OIE, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML), United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The meeting is tentatively scheduled for 23 January 2001.

I also sent letters to the relevant financial and technical institutions informing them of the concerns raised by Members regarding participation in standard-setting organizations and requesting information on what assistance they are already providing in this regard, and their scope to expand such assistance. The institutions which I contacted are: the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and UN Development Programme. I have asked for their written responses before the end of January 2001.

Following these meetings and the receipt of the requested information, I will report to you on our intended follow-up actions.