implementation and development: the Doha agenda
Doha Declaration explained
Implementation Decision explained
the negotiations are organized
Trade Negotiations Committee
Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee
Since the last meeting of the General Council, the TNC has held one
formal meeting on 1 July, and four informal meetings on 30 May, 28 and
30 June and 24 July. Today, my focus will be very much on the events of
the last few days.
Following a period of rather intensive activity at the end of June, at
the 1 July formal TNC meeting I was requested to conduct intensive and
wide-ranging consultations with the aim of facilitating the urgent
adoption of modalities in agriculture and NAMA. I was also asked to
report as soon as possible, and as I stated at the time, my aim in these
consultations would be to facilitate and catalyze agreement among
Members, who continued to remain the main actors of the process.
I started consultations with members of the G6 and then progressively
widened the circle of my contacts with individual delegations and with
I also attended the outreach session at the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg,
where a number of Heads of State and Government were present, and I told
them that they needed to revise their instructions to you and give you
more flexibilities in two ways: one, that they improve the numbers on
the table, and two, that they agree to adjust what they are ready to pay
with what they can reasonably expect for that price. During this meeting
there were some encouraging signals of additional flexibility at this
highest political level.
However, these flexibilities failed to materialize in significant
changes in the negotiators' positions and this is why at the informal
TNC meeting on Monday, 24 July, I had to report to you bad news — that
the gaps remained too wide and the situation had become very serious.
The full text of my statement on Monday is available to delegations in
JOB(06)/231. In my statement, I
stressed that, without the modalities in Agriculture and NAMA, it was
clear that it would not be possible to finish the Round at the end of
this year. The time necessary to prepare and finalize the schedules of
concessions was just not there, and too many outstanding issues remained
to be addressed. The timing had always been very tight, but the
continuing blockage on a few points meant we had simply run out of time
for the rest.
Faced with this persistent impasse, I 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
I did not propose any new deadlines nor any date for resumption of
activity in the Negotiating Groups, nor do I think that this is possible
today. This can only come when conditions exist to permit renewed
progress, and this means changes in entrenched positions. The ball is
clearly in the court of the Members.
Suspending the negotiations means that the progress made to date on the
various elements of the negotiating agenda has been put on hold, pending
the resumption of the negotiations when the negotiating environment is
right. Significant progress has been made in all areas of the
negotiations, which can be seen from the written reports of the state of
play in their respective areas which the Chairs of the negotiating
groups have just issued, and we must now ensure that this progress does
At our meeting on Monday, where a number of Ministers were present, my
recommendation was accepted. It was accepted with regret but it was
accepted. There were many expressions of disappointment that negotiators
had failed to find the necessary convergence, but delegations also
reaffirmed the reasons why the Round is important for growth and
development and many Members also stressed the sort of systemic
importance of the WTO and the contribution that these negotiations can
make to strengthening the multilateral system as a whole.
From Monday's discussions, as well as from the various discussions I've
had since Monday, I think it is clear that no-one wants to give up on
our collective effort here. My sense is that there remains widespread
determination, despite this setback, despite this deadlock, despite this
crisis, to try and bring the Round to a successful conclusion. How do we
do that? How you do that can only appear after a bit of hard thinking
and deep reflection, which is why this time out is in my view necessary.
It's the time for quiet thinking as opposed to megaphone diplomacy,
which is why I would like to urge all Members to avoid the well-known
blame game and instead use this period of reflection for serious and
sober reflection on what is at stake here. Everyone knows that what's on
the table is already quite important, and the package risks to be lost.
For my part, I will pursue my contacts, as I've done in recent days. I
will remain available to you all, as will the Chairs of the Negotiating
Groups, for any contacts you may want to have with us. My priority will
remain to continue to defend the integrity of the WTO system, which has
served us quite well in the past decades, and to continue to assist the
membership to reach agreement.
I will conclude in saying that you can count on me to do everything I
can to keep up the pressure for the political movement which would
permit a resumption of the negotiations. A resumption of the
negotiations is not with a little bit of time, or a little bit of this
and a little bit of that. A resumption of the negotiations will only
come in the right conditions after some political decisions have been
taken. I believe this is possible. I'm not sure it's going to happen,
but I think we have to keep on trying, probably quietly during some time
and this is what I will try to do and I hope that this time of
reflection will be fruitful so that at the end of this period,
refreshed, revamped, re-thought positions on the few, but very important
issues which remain at stake, can be possible.
That concludes my report and I thank you, Mr. Chairman.