is what he said:
Welcome to this informal consultation which, as you will have seen in
the convening fax, is part of the informal consultations I am holding
on the issues of participation and observership in negotiating bodies
in preparation for the second meeting of the Trade Negotiations
Committee, to be held on 24 April. This is the focus of today's
meeting, but I also wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to
inform you on a couple of other points.
me first briefly outline my thoughts on the structure of our 24 April
meeting. As you will have seen from the airgram convening the meeting,
two items are proposed for our agenda. The first, reports by the
Chairpersons of bodies established by the TNC, will allow
delegations to raise any points they may have with regard to these
reports or to make any comments of a more general nature. All the
reports will have been circulated as official documents by the time of
our meeting, and I would not envisage inviting the Chairs to introduce
them orally, unless they have any further comments to add, of course.
At this early stage of our work, I do not think it would be productive
to engage in a subject-by-subject debate, so I intend to invite
delegations to make all their comments in one intervention.
our second agenda item, participation and observership in
negotiating bodies, I intend to report on progress in the work I
have undertaken so far on these issues, including — obviously —
closing the meeting on 24 April, I will touch on our plans for future
meetings. As you will have seen in the programme of meetings, we
have scheduled the next TNC meeting for 18-19 July. After the summer
break, more TNC meetings will be necessary in the fall and most
importantly in December, when the reports on outstanding
implementation issues from the relevant WTO bodies will be submitted
to the TNC for appropriate action, in line with paragraph 12(b) of the
Doha Declaration. I will be talking to my successor, Dr. Supachai,
about the meeting schedule for the latter half of this year and also
to keep him up to date on the progress made so far. The transition
will be professional and seamless, and I think it would be very good
if Dr. Supachai attended our July meeting, if he is available.
let me turn to the main point of today’s consultation, the issues of
participation and observership which have been raised in a number of
the bodies established at our first meeting. In the course of my
regular meetings with the Chairs of those bodies, they asked me to
consult on these issues with a view to finding a generally acceptable
way of proceeding. I have thus undertaken consultations with Member
delegations, with the assistance of Deputy-Director General Miguel
the end of March, I have met with a wide range of delegations, both
individually and also in groups. Miguel Rodríguez has also met, on my
behalf, with a number of delegations and groups. These discussions
gave us a good sense of possible avenues towards resolving these
issues, and allowed us to progressively develop a series of elements.
8 April, I circulated to you all a letter accompanied by a paper
setting out some elements for possible inclusion in my statement on
these questions at our 24 April meeting. Since then I have received
some further comments, and of course today’s consultation is
intended to give any delegation who wishes to express a view the
chance to do so.
I have set out in my paper is in no way a new or radical approach. It
is rather intended to be a sensible and practical one. The aim is to
simply roll over into the negotiating bodies the existing practices in
the equivalent regular bodies, using the current, agreed guidelines as
a basis. This is exactly the way the negotiations on agriculture and
services have worked since they started two years ago, and it appears
to be an arrangement which has worked well.
approach we suggest should assist both the transparency and the
efficiency of the work of the negotiating bodies and help build the
capacity of participants — especially developing countries — to
play a full part in the negotiations.
issues are covered in my paper — participation, observer status
for Intergovernmental Organizations, and the status of Observer
governments for whom an accession working party has not been
me first report on the first and the third of these issues — namely,
participation of acceding governments and the status of
Observer governments status for whom an accession working party has
not been established. Here, I am pleased to report that I have
found wide support for the elements set out in both areas in my 8
April paper. Delegations I have spoken to so far see the approaches I
propose as being practical ways to move forward in both areas, in line
with previous practice and existing rules. I hope that today we can
come to an informal understanding on these two points.
would just like to add that, as a matter of courtesy, the
representatives of the three Observer governments for whom an
accession working party has not been established were invited to be
present in the meeting room from the start of the first meeting of the
TNC, pending a decision on their observer status. I hope you would
give me the green light to repeat this courtesy for our formal
me turn now to the second of the issues under this agenda item — observer
status for IGOs. At all times in my consultations, I have
emphasized that this issue should be approached in a practical way, to
find a provisional solution for the life of the negotiations which
would clearly be without prejudice to the issue of observership in the
General Council and other regular WTO bodies.
my consultations, the importance of observer status in the negotiating
bodies for certain IGOs has been stressed by a number of delegations.
This is because of the significance of some of these Organizations in
delivering Technical Cooperation and Capacity Building. This is an
important part of our mandate, as we all know, and we are instructed
by Ministers to work in coordination with other relevant agencies to
provide well targeted programmes. Among the Organizations which have
been mentioned in this connection are UNCTAD, ITC, World Bank, and IMF.
Their attendance is a question of efficiency, transparency and
coherence — being present at the meetings and having access to the
documentation can only facilitate their technical assistance efforts.
I should note that a letter concerning Observer status in the TNC and
the bodies established under it has been received from the IMF, as
well as a request from the ACP Group, and a further request from UNEP
for such status in the CTE Special Sessions.
reactions so far to my possible elements concerning IGO observership
have been constructive and helpful. Many delegations have expressed
the view that these elements would be a sensible basis on which to
resolve the issue.
other delegations hold the view that this issue must be addressed
within the wider context of observership in other WTO bodies. I urge
colleagues to continue to discuss this matter among themselves.
broadly speaking, is the position at this stage in my consultations.
Chairman invited any delegation who wished to comment further to take
the floor, however no delegation indicated their wish to do so. The
Chairman then made the following concluding remarks:
have heard no disagreement with my suggestions with regard to the
issues of participation of acceding governments and the status of
Observer governments for whom an accession working party has not been
established. I would therefore suggest I proceed with my statement as
set out in the relevant sections of my 8 April paper at our formal
on the issue of observer status for IGOs, while the approach I have
suggested seems widely supported, some delegations clearly cannot go
along with it at this stage. I have taken careful note of the views
expressed over the last few weeks of consultations and I suggest we
all now reflect carefully on our next steps. I hope that the approach
I have suggested might still help us reach a pragmatic solution in the
interest of all participants in the negotiations.