morning and thank you for coming to this informal meeting of Heads of
I am particularly pleased to welcome Ministers, Vice-Ministers and Senior
Officials, some of whom have travelled long distances to be present with us
This session marks the start of an intensive process of meetings, aimed at
the establishment of modalities in Agriculture and NAMA. We have a clear
objective before us — but the road to it is going to require a lot of effort
from all of us. We are at the beginning of an uphill journey, which will
take us a few days. But I remain convinced that with patience and
determination we will be able to get to our collective objective.
Together with the negotiating group Chairs, your delegations have put in a
great deal of hard work on the negotiations. Over the past several days,
there has been intensive activity among Senior Officials, which has usefully
clarified a great number of issues. As a result, we are within reach of a
major step in our drive to conclude the Round this year, which is the desire
of your governments.
I can think of no stronger spur for our action than the threats which are
facing the world economy across several fronts, including rises in food
prices and energy prices and financial market turbulences. There is
widespread recognition that a balanced outcome of the Doha Round could in
these circumstances provide a strong push to stimulate economic growth,
providing better prospects for development and ensuring a stable and more
predictable trading system. Heads of State and Government across the world
have repeatedly expressed their overwhelming commitment to this endeavour,
and we must not let this opportunity slip.
The objective this week is therefore to prepare the formal establishment of
modalities in Agriculture and NAMA while providing assurance that other
issues are also advancing within the Single Undertaking, including through
holding a Signalling Conference on services.
Establishing modalities in Agriculture and NAMA does not mean that the
negotiations on these two issues are over. Let me again stress that the
establishment of modalities is, instead, a necessary stage to allow us to
proceed to the preparation of schedules, and to accelerate the negotiations
in the other areas.
The process of getting from where we are today to the establishment of
modalities will be the same as we have followed in the past. No surprises,
intensive informal consultations in a variety of configurations — bilateral,
plurilateral and multilateral — with the same basic principles: that
decisions can only be taken by the full membership; that transparency and
inclusiveness are fundamental; and that, while consultations in various
configurations are essential to narrow differences, any convergence emerging
from them must feed back into the multilateral process in a continuous loop.
Therefore, informal HODs meetings such as this one will be held each morning
throughout this week to ensure transparency and to review developments at
our multilateral level. A Services Signalling Conference is scheduled for
The HODs meetings will be supplemented with continuing dialogue with
regional and other groups as well as with smaller group consultations, which
are most likely to take place in the afternoon of each day. The composition
of these meetings will, as before, ensure that the full spectrum of Members'
views and interests is represented. Some degree of variable geometry may at
times be needed depending on the issues being discussed, but again this is
nothing new. Adequate time will also be set aside each day for coordinators
to meet with their groups for consultations.
In order to make the most efficient use of our limited time, the negotiating
group Chairs will supplement this process with continuing work at Senior
Official level, focusing on resolving more detailed technical issues, so
they synergise with the process at the Ministerial level.
The starting point for this work will be the negotiating group Chairs'
revised texts of 10 July. Some further progress has been achieved on these
texts since they were issued. In NAMA, broad convergence has been found on
the subject of Members with a low binding coverage, the details of which
will be circulated by the Chair later today. The end product should be
sufficient convergence on key points to enable final draft modalities to be
We have tentatively scheduled a TNC for this on 26 July, but it could well
take place later depending on progress this week and bearing in mind the
need to provide sufficient time for each and every delegation to consider
the final product.
The formal TNC scheduled for 26 July will also have before it reports and
roadmaps from other negotiating group Chairs and from myself on the Services
Signalling Conference, so Members can situate the modalities agreement in
the context of the Single Undertaking. As DG, I will also be reporting on
consultations I have been undertaking with respect to the issues of GI
Extension and TRIPS/CBD, under the mandate I received from Ministers in Hong
We have obviously an ambitious task ahead of us. Much work remains to be
done this week, and we need to use our time more efficiently, starting with
this meeting. So I urge all delegations to be substantive but as succinct as
possible. The focus now must be on what is new — new developments, new ideas
— and on what can bring us to convergence. If you wish to have your full
text circulated, please contact the Secretariat and we will do so, thus
allowing you to make a concise statement during this meeting. As for the
organization of our work this morning, my intention is to break at 1 pm and
reconvene tomorrow morning at 10 am. If there are Delegations which have not
been able to take the floor today, they will do so tomorrow.
The time has come to move from “discussions” to “negotiations”. We have
talked the talk, now we have to walk the walk to finish the Round. We need
positive results from this week's engagement, and all need to approach it
with a clear objective in mind.
In a meeting with me yesterday, a minister compared the task ahead of us
this week to climbing the Mont Blanc together. I totally agree with him.
Like Horace de Saussure, the Geneva born physicist who organized the first
ascent to the Mont Blanc, we have prepared ourselves for this excursion, we
have made provisions, we have prepared maps, we have exercised our legs and
our lungs. Also, climbing the Mont Blanc can only be achieved as a team
endeavour. We must help and understand each other all along the climb. The
only way to reach the top is understanding each others' interests and
Let us therefore be inspired by the view of the Mont Blanc and by the
example of Horace de Saussure and aim for the top.
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