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Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

I am pleased to report that since my last report to the General Council in July, our negotiations have started again to move ahead in earnest. Delegations came back from the summer break with a businesslike attitude. They have done their homework, and have heeded the call to be fit and ready to engage in intensive negotiations from the beginning of September.

Starting with the work on Agriculture, participants are demonstrating the kind of engagement and readiness to look for compromises that the Chair and I have been urging for some time.

I think it should be clear to all of us that completing the Round is not only technically possible, but also a political must. Over the last few weeks, we have continued to hear this message from the highest levels, reflecting a strong commitment to a successful and ambitious outcome to the Round. In particular, APEC Leaders at their meeting in Sydney underlined the urgent need to make progress and pledged the political will, flexibility and ambition to ensure the negotiations enter their final phase this year, calling on all Members to join them in this respect. We have also heard similar calls from other leaders, including at last weeks' Public Forum here at the WTO.

Let me reiterate that the only possible path to an ambitious, balanced and development-oriented outcome to the Round is not only to establish full modalities in Agriculture and NAMA, which are needed to start scheduling, but also to make commensurate progress in other areas of the negotiations in line with the full Doha mandates, the July 2004 Decision and the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.

The work in Agriculture and NAMA in the coming days is aimed at developing enough common ground to allow the Chairs to prepare revisions of the texts they issued in July. They have both made clear their plans in this regard in their respective negotiating groups. And I am pleased to be able to report that we now have more clarity also in the areas of Services and Rules.

As he has informed delegations, the Chair of the Services negotiations will be conducting consultations on the content of a text in this area. Clearly, existing agreed texts — in particular Annex C of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration — must govern the content of any such document as well as future work in this area.

In Rules, as he announced at the July meeting of the TNC, the Chair expects to circulate texts on Anti-dumping and Subsidies & Countervailing Measures, including fisheries subsidies, at around the same time that the revised papers on Agriculture and NAMA are circulated.

In the other areas of the negotiations, the Chairs are sparing no effort to move the work ahead, and they will also be developing texts as they judge the issues are ripe.

I would like to express my appreciation for the hard work that the Negotiating Group Chairs are putting in. Their leadership and judgement in each area of the negotiations are invaluable.

We have regained a good level of momentum in our work, and the challenge now is to accelerate it in the days and weeks ahead, so that the necessary compromises can be found. However, now more than ever, time is running against us. As I have stated before, progress is now being made but we must increase the pace at which we move ahead in agriculture and NAMA , so that we can then bring all the elements of the Round together, as we have to do under the Single Undertaking. And let me recall that we must keep firmly in mind the need to reflect the Development Dimension of this Round, including Special and Differential Treatment, in all our work.

At this stage, I do not believe that it would useful to try to fix deadlines or negotiate a detailed roadmap. We cannot afford to let ourselves be distracted from the main tasks at hand. We all know what we have to do to conclude the Round, and I believe we must maintain our focus fully on substance. There is an active process going on in the Negotiating Groups, and this deserves all our attention. This process is now text-driven, and texts are substance-driven. Getting into a process debate now would, I believe, risk impeding that progress.

Let me assure you that, as TNC Chairman, I am giving my full attention to the need for a coherent approach to this final phase of the negotiations. I have intensified my meetings with you, Mr Chairman, and the Negotiating Group Chairs, and I will work closely with the other Chairs to ensure that their individual processes are mutually supportive.
I also stand ready to undertake any meetings of a cross-cutting nature which might help us move towards agreement across the board. In this respect, direct ministerial involvement might also be necessary at some point. However, I believe it is premature to speculate on when that might be. I will also continue my contacts with Members, both here in Geneva and at meetings elsewhere.

Since the summer, all of you have put much effort into the negotiating process. We should enable it to achieve its full potential so we can conclude the Round successfully and ambitiously. I remain convinced that this deal is as doable as it is essential.

Finally, a word about Aid for Trade. In the last month, I have attended the three Aid for Trade Regional Reviews in Lima, Manila and Dar es Salaam, organized in cooperation with the relevant Development Banks. I believe these meetings have helped us raise awareness over these issues in domestic constituencies as well as within the donor community. The next step now is build on the progress made there at the annual Global Review session here in the General Council on 20-21 November so that we can move to specifics. I would also like to mention the recent pledging conference on the Enhanced Integrated Framework for the Least Developed Countries which was successful. This is also an area were progress is being made: the Executive Secretariat of the EIF is being set up and work is already on-going to strengthen the capacity of LDCs and put them in a position to mainstream trade into their development strategies.

That concludes my report on this occasion. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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