WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

General Council — 10 October 2000

The General Council of the WTO met on 10 October 2000. The following topics were tackled:

Accession of Oman

The General Council approved Oman's accession to the WTO. Since Oman ratified its protocol of accession on the same day, it will become WTO's 139th member on 9 November 2000.

Agreement with the International Telecommunications Union (DSU)

The General Council approved the Agreement between the ITU and the WTO. The Agreement provides that the two organizations will cooperate on matters relating to trade in telecommunications.

Work Programme on Electronic Commerce

The Chairman of the General Council, Ambassador Bryn, will continue his consultations with the Chairpersons of the Councils for Trade in Goods, Services, TRIPS and the Committee on Trade and Development on how to organize the work on e-commerce, including the question of a “horizontal” ad hoc task force. The General Council will revert to this matter at its meeting in December.

Amendment of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU)

Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Switzerland and Venezuela circulated a proposal to amend certain provisions of the DSU. The General Council agreed that its Chairman hold informal consultations on how to move forward on this proposal and to revert to the matter at the December meeting.

Negotiation reports by the Committee on Agriculture and the Services Council

The General Council received reports from the Agriculture Committee (G/AG/NG/3) and the Services Council (S/CSS/M4) concerning their negotiation sessions (also called special sessions). The agriculture report is available on the WTO website under “Documents”.

Date and venue of the Fourth Ministerial Conference

The General Council will seek to take a decision on the date and venue of the next Ministerial Conference at its next meeting. The General Council took note with appreciation of the invitation of the Government of Qatar to host the Conference and invited any other Member Government wishing to host the Conference to inform the General Council. The Secretariat will have to prepare a factual report to the General Council on the conference facilities which are available in each proposed venue.

Improvement and transparency

Under “other business”, the General Council heard presentations by the European Communities and the United States on their respective submissions: “Improving the Functioning of the WTO System” (WT/GC/W/412) and “External Transparency” (WT/GC/W/413). Both proposals are available on the WTO website under “Documents”.

The next meeting of the General Council will take place on 7 and 8 December 2000.