WTO: 2006 NEWS ITEMS
01 July 2006
TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE
As mentioned in the fax sent out earlier today, I have decided to start
this afternoon in informal mode so that I can bring you all up to date
with developments in my consultations and hear your views. We will, just
after this discussion, switch to a formal meeting.
I will not beat about the bush. We are now in a crisis. We are far from the necessary convergence to be able to establish modalities in Agriculture and NAMA, despite all the hard work put in by everyone. I am very grateful for this hard work, and also for the constructive spirit in which it has been done. During the meetings I have attended or chaired, I have witnessed no acrimony around the table, which is a positive sign. I also want to thank all the Ministers for having made time to be here.
Since our last informal meeting yesterday morning, I have continued consultations with delegations, with groups, with the G-6 and with the ministerial consultative group. However, the fear which I expressed before you yesterday — that real negotiation might not take place — seems to be the reality facing us. This is serious, not only for the Agriculture and NAMA negotiations, but also, obviously, for the Round as a whole if we want to conclude it by the end of this year.
The only good news I have is that no-one, and I repeat no-one, appears to want to throw in the towel. Everyone is still committed to finishing the Round this year. So the question now facing us is how we deal with this situation. As I said, we are in a crisis because, on some issues, distances remain too large between major players. But my diagnosis is that the situation is not hopeless and that distances remain bridgeable. That being so, what we have to do is to find a way forward which preserves our chances of finishing the Round at the end of the year and realizing the benefits it represents. It will be harder to do; indeed, we now are in the red part of the red zone. Therefore, with time not being on our side, the only guarantee of success is in the readiness of Members to exchange, to make concessions, that is, to negotiate.
For my part, I stand ready to do all I can to facilitate progress. In particular, it has been suggested to me that I should consult widely and intensively to facilitate the urgent establishment of agriculture and NAMA modalities, starting with the key players. I am prepared to do this if you think it is helpful. Following a number of discussions this morning, I should make it clear that in doing so I would base the consultations on the drafts which have been tabled by the Agriculture and NAMA Chairs, and aim to report back to the TNC as soon as possible.
I will shortly open the formal TNC. I think in our discussions we must be practical and forward looking. We have to be lucid, but I think we all have to be focused on how to move from here in order to meet our common challenge.