Beijing, 31 March 2003

Doha Development Agenda Advanced Training Programme for Asia-Pacific Senior Government Officials

Deputy Director-General Kipkorir Aly Azad Rana, in a speech opening the Doha Development Agenda Advanced Training Programme for Asia-Pacific Senior Government Officials on 31 March 2003 in Beijing, said that WTO Members could not tempt failure by procrastinating, engaging in trade brinkmanship, or holding out for last minute deals. Mr. Rana also recalled that WTO Ministers at Doha undertook a massive and unprecedented set of technical cooperation and capacity building commitments to enable developing and least-developed countries to effectively participate in the Doha Negotiations. He added that the progress made on technical cooperation and capacity building since Doha had been significant and positive, enabling beneficiary countries to effectively engage in the on-going negotiations.

SH.E. Mr. Lu Fuyuan, Minister of Commerce of China,
Dr. Kim Hak-Su, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP),
Professor Xu Zhihong, President Peking University and Vice-President, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Professor Li Yining, Dean of the Guanghua School of Management, Peking University,
Professor Zhu Suli, Dean of Peking University Law School,
Mr. Gao Zongze, Representative of All China Lawyers Association,
Participants to this Advanced Training Programme,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I should like to welcome you to this Opening Session of the Doha Development Agenda Advanced Training Programme for Senior Government Officials from Asia-Pacific countries. This Advanced Training Programme, an important WTO technical cooperation and capacity building activity, is a joint endeavour between the WTO Secretariat, UNESCAP, the Ministry of Commerce of China, and Peking University. This Advanced Training Programme is also being brought to nine other regional centres in the world.

I should like to thank China, its government and people, for hosting this course and for placing such excellent facilities at the disposal of the partner organizations and participants. I should also like to acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Kim Hak-Su and Asia-Pacific leaders to meet the challenge of development and contribute to peace, security and human welfare through domestic reform, including trade liberalization. The WTO Secretariat stands ready to help you as your countries seek to reform, liberalize and develop.

At Doha, in November 2001, WTO Ministers launched the most ambitious and wide-ranging trade negotiations ever. These negotiations include agriculture, services, non-agricultural goods, the environment, and WTO rules (encompassing regional trade arrangements, the Dispute Settlement Understanding and trade remedies). There are also negotiations under way to make Special and Differential Treatment Provisions “more precise, effective and operational” and to provide the possibility of having cheaper access to certain medicines for poor countries. In addition, work programmes were established for possible new framework agreements in investment, competition, government procurement and trade facilitation. Members are also examining in depth the links between trade, debt and finance; the links between trade and transfer of technology; and, the circumstances of Small Economies. Although staged target deadlines have been set for specific areas of the negotiations, the overall final deadline for the completion of the negotiations is 1 January 2005. The workload for all countries, but particularly for the developing and least developed countries, is very heavy. Let me stress that we must work to the time-frames, if we want to achieve the set goals and meet the overall time frames.

At Doha, Ministers acknowledged and reaffirmed the fact that trade is an engine for development. The overriding objective in the negotiations is to ensure that trade functions as a tool for development. Improving human welfare and attaining development goals are the ultimate ends of government policy. At Doha, for the first time-ever, development objectives were placed at the heart of a new trade round. This was made possible for several reasons. The vast majority, if not all WTO Members, participated fully, constructively and with focus. The broad spectrum of Members’ interests was represented through sensible and practical positions by all participating Ministers. Ministers were committed to the principal objectives of rejecting protectionism, eliminating trade barriers, stimulating growth, creating jobs, improving the welfare of their people and, hence, contributing to peace and security. It was recognized that development, peace and security are inextricably linked, and that trade has an indispensable contribution to make because it generates income, creates wealth and jobs.

To achieve a similar broad-based and satisfactory conclusion to the on going negotiations and work programme by 1 January 2005, the Director-General has continuously urged Ministers to engage with each other, as they did in setting the agenda at Doha: fully and constructively, and with a willingness to compromise.

Under the Doha Development Agenda, developing countries will have the opportunity to achieve better market access for their products in developed countries, but also in developing countries to which their products are exported.

Multilateral institutions can help contribute to training negotiators and assisting with the development of national institutional capacity for trade policy formulation and advocacy. This is why at Doha, WTO Ministers undertook a massive and unprecedented set of technical cooperation and capacity building commitments that would enable developing and least-developed countries effectively participate in the Doha Negotiations and Work Programme. The commitments were also designed to assist developing and least-developed countries to exercise the rights of membership and draw on the benefits of the open, rules-based multilateral trading system. The WTO Secretariat is responding concretely to the challenge. Significant progress has been made in this area. Nonetheless, I must emphasise that the scale of the demand, the urgency of the needs and the ever-expanding list of priorities on the part of recipient countries are so huge that the WTO Secretariat cannot alone fulfil these expectations.

The purpose of this advanced training programme is to strengthen the effective participation of Members and Observers in the Doha Development Agenda Negotiations and Work Programme through policy analysis, a deeper understanding of the issues and a better knowledge of the range of options available. In the discussions that underpinned the Doha paragraphs on technical cooperation and capacity building, recipient countries were critical of the traditional focus of WTO technical cooperation and training activities on assisting countries to “understand” already negotiated and agreed rules, but being weak on building effective negotiating capacity to establish new rules. They were right. This training programme is a creative response to the challenge put to us by Members and Observers to improve on our technical cooperation and capacity building, by making our activities more negotiation-relevant. It will focus on real issues at the centre of the Doha Negotiations and Work Programme.

These 10 advanced intensive 2-week training courses are complemented by the regular trade policy courses which run for three months at the WTO Secretariat in Geneva. Because these were so highly regarded, we took them to two African countries last year: Kenya and Morocco, for Anglophone and Francophone African countries respectively. Two more will be held this year before the Cancun Ministerial. We are looking into the possibility of expanding these trade policy courses to other regions by 2004 and beyond.

These advanced courses are a core part of the TA activities in the 2003 WTO Technical Assistance Plan authorized by the membership last November. This latest Plan incorporates the significant progress that has been made in the area of technical cooperation and capacity building. The implementation of the 2002 TA Plan, which was authorized by the Membership on 6 March 2002 as part of the implementation of the Doha commitments, was satisfactory and positive. The 2003 TA Plan continues to implement the Doha commitments, and builds on the achievements of the 2002 TA Plan. As the Director-General reported to WTO Members in the General Council in December 2002, the progress made on Technical Cooperation and Capacity Building since Doha has been significant and positive, enabling beneficiary countries to effectively engage in the on going negotiations. The Membership shared this assessment. The Director-General also emphasised his firm commitment to the design of a WTO technical cooperation and capacity building programme that will endure and serve the Membership well beyond the Doha negotiations.

A number of countries here are LDCs. I am pleased to report that substantive progress has been made, at three levels, to help integrate Least Developed Countries into the Multilateral Trading System, in accordance with the Doha mandate. First, a WTO Work Programme for LDCs was adopted by the Membership on 12 February 2002. Second, much progress has been made with regard to the Integrated Framework for the LDCs. This is the mechanism for assisting LDCs to mainstream trade into their plans for national economic development and strategies for poverty reduction. Discussions are underway amongst agencies, donors and the LDCs on the extension of the Integrated Framework to more LDCs. Third, in a historic decision, Members agreed to guidelines to facilitate LDCs’ accession to the WTO.

I would like to assure you of the WTO's firm determination and commitment to effectively implement measures to assist Asia-Pacific countries and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their participation in the work of the WTO.

Let me say a few words on the progress of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. At the last meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) held on 4-5 March 2003, the Director-General reported to Members his assessment on the state-of-play of the negotiations. He indicated that although progress has been made on all fronts, it has been uneven and we have not moved as quickly as we need to. We were unable to meet the target deadlines for 2002 on TRIPS and Health, implementation issues, and special and differential treatment. Other deadlines are pressing in on us; in tariffs, on modalities for the overall negotiations in agriculture, in services, and in dispute settlement.

The Director-General emphasized that more clarity is needed in negotiating positions. The Director-General reiterated that entrenched positions on key issues and a lack of real engagement have combined to bring the Round to a very serious point. Flexibility is a necessary pre-condition to finding compromises and forging consensus. It is essential that all areas of the negotiations move forward together. This will provide an overall picture of the balance of gains and concessions under the Single Undertaking. We cannot tempt failure by procrastinating, engaging in trade brinkmanship, or holding out for last minute deals.

Let me conclude by briefly emphasising that the 5th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun is only six months away. To ensure that we have a successful Ministerial Meeting, the Director-General is appealing to Ministers to fully and proactively engage in the process. The Director-General believes that a successful ministerial meeting is one in which the outcome is balanced, with positive results for strengthening global demand, increasing growth, and at the same time generating benefits for all our Members. Such an outcome is only possible with the full engagement by Ministers steering the process and directing their trade negotiators in Geneva.

Thank you for your kind attention.