27-28 July 2006

General Council supports suspension of trade talks, Task Force submits “Aid for Trade” recommendations

The General Council, at its meeting on 27-28 July 2006, supported a recommendation by Director-General Pascal Lamy to suspend the Doha negotiations. The Task Force on Aid for Trade submitted its report and recommendations aimed at helping developing countries increase exports of goods and services.

> Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee
> More on the General Council meeting of 27-28 July 2006

Aid for Trade

General Council

Negotiations, implementation and development: the Doha agenda

The Doha Declaration explained

The Implementation Decision explained

How the negotiations are organized

The Trade Negotiations Committee


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Pascal Lamy’s speeches

The Director-General, as chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee, reported on his consultations to facilitate and catalyze an agreement among Members. In his report, he said that there were no significant changes in the negotiators positions and the gaps remained too wide. Faced with this situation, the Director-General recommended that the only course of action available was to suspend the negotiations across the Round as a whole to enable the serious reflection by participants which was clearly necessary.

In their statements, members agreed with this assessment and endorsed the Director-General's recommendation. There were expressions of profound regret, disappointment and frustration for the lack of progress in the negotiations. They agreed that a time of reflection was needed but they also expressed the hope that this “time-out” would be temporary and short since there was a need to put the negotiations back on track as soon as possible. They also said that we should preserve the achievements of the negotiation so far and build upon them rather than unravel them. There was a general agreement on the need not to modify the mandate or split it allowing for selective progress.

The General Council also heard a report on the work undertaken by the Task Force on Aid For Trade created at the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration as a way to contribute to the development dimension of the Doha Development Agenda. Ambassador Horn Af Rantzien (Sweden), chairperson of the Task Force, made a statement in which she said that the Task Force had now concluded its work and reached consensus on the recommendations.

She said that there was clear consensus in the Task Force that Aid For Trade is important in its own right, and it should move forward expeditiously despite the current difficulties in the Round. At the same time, members were equally clear that Aid For Trade is not—and cannot be—a substitute for the development benefits that will flow from a successful Doha Round.

Members acknowledged the importance of Aid For Trade as a tool to help developing countries integrate fuller into the multilateral trading system and to provide them with increased trade opportunities as a way to enhance growth prospects and reduce poverty. They said Aid For Trade is an important element in the Doha Development Agenda, and hoped for an early implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force. Some also noted that the report provided a good blue print on how to operationalize its recommendations.

Since the report was only issued on Thursday and members needed adequate time to review it before considering the appropriate course of action, the General Council agreed to revert to this matter at the next meeting (scheduled for October) to consider the follow up to the report and its recommendations.

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