is the first-ever trade policy course the WTO is organizing, jointly
with the Forum Secretariat, for Pacific Island countries. I regret I
cannot be here with you in person.
October last year I had the pleasure to meet with the Pacific Island
participants attending a Trade Policy Course for LDCs in Geneva. That
is where the idea for this specialized trade policy course for Pacific
Island leaders originated.
me add that only a few weeks ago, I was in the Caribbean, seeing our
brothers and sisters there who have similar problems to yourselves:
problems of small and vulnerable countries with scarce resources and
who have not been able to participate fully in WTO processes. This
course is an important effort on our part to include you more fully in
our work. We are undertaking similar activities in the Caribbean.
me pay tribute to Mr. Levi, the Secretary-General, for his able
leadership. I want to thank him for his support of the work of the
WTO. I will continue to rely on his advice and support particularly in
the next few months as we prepare for the WTO Ministerial Conference
to take place in Qatar in November. I also extend my thanks to the
Government of New Zealand for providing the funding that has made the
holding of this course possible. The governments of Australia and
France continue to offer assistance in various ways, which is highly
you begin this course, let me report to you on several key issues I
believe are uppermost in your minds and to which I attach the highest
the problems of small economies. WTO Members have expressed concern
over the marginalization of LDCs and certain small and vulnerable
economies and societies. There is a recognition that these concerns
need to be urgently addressed. The problems are at several levels.
They include the facts of geography, high costs of exports caused by
distance and isolation from main markets, and elementary forces of
nature which erase infrastructures and impose high tolls on national
economic efforts. The problems have clearly been recognized and
practical solutions can be worked out to address some of these factors
as they relate to small vulnerable economies. For example, although it
is difficult to change the facts of geography, modern electronic and
high-speed communications can provide some solutions. Increased use of
the Internet, e-mails, mobile and land-based telephony, are examples
in this regard.
are helping. You may be aware the WTO has installed 96 Reference
Centres in 78 countries, including in the Pacific countries of Tonga,
Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa. I am
currently consulting with governments in this region to try and secure
funding for more Reference Centres to be located in the Pacific. WTO
Reference Centres allow users access to WTO news, information and
documentation. It brings you closer to our work in Geneva.
are making other efforts. We have expanded our technical assistance
programmes in the region. This course is one example. WTO Members are
also continuing discussions on Special and Differential Treatment
provisions in WTO Agreements with a view to making them more
operational and to take greater account of the special needs of small
and vulnerable economies. Improvements in market access will also make
significant contributions for resolving the problems of small
beyond the efforts of the WTO Secretariat and Membership, I believe
small economy concerns can most effectively be addressed within the
context of a wider set of trade negotiations. That is why I hope the
Ministerial Conference in Qatar will succeed in launching a new round
of multilateral trade negotiations.
let me talk on WTO accessions. This is a subject of paramount
importance. I know Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu are in the process of
joining the WTO. I have raised their individual applications with WTO
Members frequently. I believe there is growing support amongst WTO
Members for accelerating the accession process for these and all other
LDC applicant countries, but without bending the rules which are
critical to the integrity and credibility of the multilateral trading
system. The WTO delegation at this meeting will address relevant
technical issues that will facilitate your respective accession
processes. But let me add; accessions are member-driven; each Member
country has the right to seek from you certain answers. It is my duty
as Director-General to ensure you receive all the necessary and
possible technical support to accelerate your applications. I will
also work to ensure that undue pressure beyond the established rules
is not placed on acceding countries.
trade-related capacity-building. This is an area where the WTO has
made significant progress this year. Members of our Finance Committee
have increased our budget for technical assistance activities by CHF
1.5 million. Although the increase is modest, it is an important step.
I have requested Members to increase our regular budget further so we
can plan ahead in a predictable way. I will continue to press them for
this support. In addition to funds from the regular budget, several
Members have been generous in providing extra-budgetary support for
of you will be familiar with the International Trade Center. This
is another instrument to assist countries. The Commission assists you,
in practical ways, to get your products to markets. Fifty percent of
the Commission's core budget comes from the WTO.
can report considerable success on a project called the Integrated
Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance for LDCs. This is run
by the WTO and 5 other agencies: ITC, IMF, UNCTAD, UNDP, and the World
Bank. Just recently, WTO Members (in the Sub-Committee on
Least-Developed Countries) agreed to establish an IF Pilot Scheme,
which will operate on the basis of the Integrated Framework Trust
Fund. This Scheme will focus primarily on "mainstreaming" a
trade integration Chapter into the overall development plans and
poverty reduction strategies of LDCs. Another key objective in the
Pilot Scheme will be to improve coordination among all bilateral and
multilateral providers of technical assistance and elaborate a
prioritised and sequenced programme of technical assistance in the
beneficiary pilot LDCs. This elaborated programme will include
infrastructural requirements to be considered at World Bank
Consultative Group (CG) meetings or UNDP Round Tables. This is a
significant degree of improvement in our efforts at coordination among
donors, beneficiary countries and agencies.
for the first time after many years, we are getting all the agencies
in a line to assist LDCs. It should have been done years ago. In fact
Ministers first instructed agencies to work on this project in 1996.
Notwithstanding the delay, the agencies are now working in concert to
achieve a purpose as directed by Ministers. I hope this model, when
successful, will be used more extensively to assist developing
countries and the smaller and more vulnerable amongst us as well.
assistance needs are increasing. No single agency or individual donor
can cope with the complexity and magnitude of demands for technical
assistance from developing and least-developed countries. A
coordinated response is the best possible response. We have made
important progress in this regard. I remain committed to improving not
just coordination, but also the volume and quality of technical
assistance. I know that good quality assistance is vital for
developing and least-developed countries if they are to effectively
participate in the multilateral trading system, in and future trade
negotiations. It is vital to assisting their full integrate into the
all have problems with existing WTO decisions and agreements. We need
to be able to provide you with assistance and capacity to enable you
to meet your obligations and exploit the opportunities provided by the
WTO agreements. We also need to be able to provide to our small and
more vulnerable Members technical capacity so they can negotiate
inside a new round. Because it is only inside a new round that we can
do the best for the most of our membership.
improvements in market access opportunities. We have been on this job
for several months now. It has been a sad situation where the poorest
countries on the planet have not been able to export to the richest
markets in areas where they have competitive advantage. LDCs represent
less than half of one percent of world trade. But even where they have
advantage they have been locked out of wealthy markets (or have faced
higher tariffs and more protection than any other group of countries).
can report to you some progress. Some of you may recall that,
post-Seattle, as part of WTO confidence-building, I initiated
consultations on measures in favour of LDCs. Market access was a key
component. As a result of these efforts, a large number of Members
have proposed further market access opportunities for LDCs. Other
countries are wanting to help even though it is politically difficult
for them. Several countries, as I have said, have taken quite bold
moves; Canada, New Zealand and Norway have notified us of measures
taken. Others — Japan, United States —
have announced or proposed
new measures that will improve market access. Significantly, the
European Union just recently made a decision that provides for duty
and quota-free market access for exports from 48 LDCs, with the
exception of arms. Bananas, rice and sugar will be phased in between
2002 to 2009. That is a positive development, it reflects well on the
leadership in Europe and has pushed us to seek absolutely duty and
quota-free market access for all LDCs.
together, we have achieved a positive step forward for LDCs. Is it
enough? It is never enough. We want duty-free market access for
Least-Developed countries in all markets. Again, the only way to
achieve that - the best way - is in the context of a new trade round.
countries in the Pacific are LDCs. They can benefit from improvements
to market access. But that in itself is not enough. It is about
building capacity at home, infrastructure at home, marketing at home,
education at home and, for some of our more distant friends, reducing
the enormous cost that they face because of transport.
fifth point. I want to report to you on the status of on-going work on
mandated negotiations in agriculture and services. Agriculture and
Services represent two thirds of the world's economic activity. These
negotiations began last year. We were instructed to undertake these
negotiations by Ministers at the Marrakesh conference. Special
sessions have been held. Progress has been made. The Council for Trade
in Services has been discussing guidelines for the negotiations on
services. When these discussions are finalized and when the guidelines
are agreed to, they will establish the objectives, principles, scope,
modalities and procedures for substantive negotiations. The Committee
on Agriculture is discussing many negotiating proposals from Members.
We have 36 proposals in front of us.
the end of March, we will undertake a "stock-taking" of
these negotiations and across the board to see how far we have come
and how we move ahead in the future. Then, in July, we will report to
Ministers on our progress. By July we ought to have a good idea of our
agenda for the Ministerial Conference in Qatar. We will have isolated
those areas where we can get close enough so that Ministers and our
leaders can find an agreement.
the Ministerial Conference in Qatar is just 8 months away. Ensuring we
have a successful Ministerial is my major objective. By 'successful
Ministerial' I mean one that launches a series of negotiations that
all of us feel comfortable with, that provides enough space for all of
our Members, and which ensures capacity building alongside some
complex areas is put together.
are under way. It is an extremely difficult process. We are doing the
consultations in an open and transparent way. I know of course the
difficulties of small countries. A small country like New Zealand will
never have as many officials as Australia or Japan. It is even more
difficult for Pacific countries. But there are some ways in which we
can increase their participation. This is why I established in my
first year the “Geneva Week” which is an initiative designed
to help officials from non-resident countries improve their
representation in Geneva. Many of you probably have been on these
courses. We had another one last year and we will have one this year.
Even if small countries will never have the same representation as
bigger countries, we have new ideas to enhance current participation
and we have put in place assistance initiatives that never existed
am sure that WTO Members clearly understand the stakes involved. We
need to maintain the credibility of the multilateral rules-based
system. We need to strengthen it. If there are injustices — and
there are; if there are things that can be improved — and there are,
they can best be improved if we have a wider set of negotiations that
bring all these problems together.
are ominous signs out there. Many countries are looking at regional
alternatives. Sometimes, this is good, sometimes, this is a
building-block. But regionalism must never be seen as a substitute for
the multilateral system. Because we know that the ones who will miss
out the most from regional and bilateral agreements will be the
smallest, the most vulnerable and the poorest. There are plenty of
people knocking at the doors of wealthy countries. There are not that
many knocking on the doors of the poorest.
overriding challenge today for the multilateral trading system, as a
part of the global economy, is to join in international efforts to
alleviate poverty, and to meet the internationally agreed targets of
halving poverty by 2015. No challenge is greater. I see this as a
moral issue as well. How can we deny opportunity for the most
vulnerable of us and say that we are a fair rules-based system? I
repeat — and this is my personal view, it is not the view of all our
Members — if we are to redress these imbalances, to give the most
distant and lonely of our Members a better go, we will do a better job
negotiating inside a new round.
hope that you have a successful seminar and course. I know some of my
dear friends from Geneva are with you. I do wish I could be with you.
I miss the region. I am homesick! I look forward to doing the job and