WTO: 2006 NEWS ITEMS
01 July 2006
TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE
Let me start by recalling very briefly, for the record, that at an
informal meeting of the TNC on Wednesday at the level of Heads of
Delegation, we set out the immediate next steps in our process towards
establishing modalities in Agriculture and NAMA on the basis of the
texts that had been circulated by the Chairs of the two negotiating
I also announced that I would be undertaking, in the course of the following few days, discussions in various formats towards this end with the participation of a number of Ministers, and that the process would culminate in a formal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee.
Since our last informal meeting yesterday morning, I have continued contacts with a wide range of delegations, including the ministerial consultative group. I would like to thank all of the delegations, Ministers and Senior Officials who have been present here over the past few days for their efforts. I am grateful for their hard work, and for the constructive spirit in which it has been done. In these discussions, I have also witnessed no acrimony around the table, which is a positive sign.
That being so, and as I have just informed you in the informal meeting, we remain far from the necessary convergence to be able to establish modalities in Agriculture and NAMA, despite all the hard work put in by everyone. We have tried hard, but have not managed to create the much needed landing zone this week that we had hoped for. We therefore have to face squarely the fact that we are now in a crisis situation. We are in the red part of the red zone, and it will now be more difficult to conclude this Round by the end of the year. Therefore, since time is not on our side, the only guarantee of success is what so many of you have been asking for, namely the readiness of Members to exchange, to make concessions, that is, to negotiate. We know that a number of important players have to play a leading role in this process.
In the light of this situation, I do not intend at this meeting to review the state of play in all areas of our negotiations, with inputs from the Chairs of the respective groups, or to update you on my ongoing consultations on outstanding implementation issues, as we usually do at TNC meetings.
I propose instead that we focus on the current situation, and the next steps. Although we must admit that we are in crisis mode, the situation is not hopeless. Over the broad scope of the DDA, the picture is by no means dismal. Positive and substantive progress has and is being made in a number of areas. However, the fact remains that all this effort and progress in a large number of areas are at risk and probably would disappear if the modalities are not unblocked. I have heard good news in the very strong commitment from you to the objective of concluding the Round before the end of this year. There has been total unanimity on this point, so the question is to find a way to preserve this chance of finishing this negotiation before the end of the year.
On the basis of the suggestions that have emerged in the informal consultations, and in the informal TNC session just preceding this meeting, regarding further process towards establishing these modalities, I would like to propose that we agree as follows:
First, that in view of the crisis in the negotiations, the TNC request me to conduct intensive and wide-ranging consultations with the aim of facilitating the urgent establishment of modalities in agriculture and NAMA;
Second, that my consultations should be based on the draft texts prepared by the Chairs of the negotiating groups; and
Third, that I should report to the TNC as soon as possible.
In the light of a number of your observations, I want to be clear that these consultations will aim at facilitating and catalyzing agreement among the membership in this time of crisis, and that you the Members continue to remain the main actors in the process. And these consultations, if agreed, will be pursued fully in keeping with the principle of a bottom-up approach, and respect for transparency and inclusiveness, which I think you know by now that I am very committed to, and which is, I believe, the way we have proceeding until now, and I do not intend to change this.
If there are no comments or suggestions I invite the Trade Negotiations Committee to take note of my statement, and agree to proceed in the manner I have suggested.
I will now close this meeting.