Good morning and welcome. The purpose of
this meeting, as always, is to update you on the consultations I
have been holding and to hear your views on the negotiations.
Let me at the outset offer my sincere thanks to Minister Støre, the
negotiating group Chairs, and each of the Ministers and delegations
representing their Governments here for their hard work and patience
over these past few days. I know that for many this process is
frustrating, complex, difficult and perhaps obscure from time to
time, but it is part of the contribution you have to make to trying
to find a way forward.
Since our Heads of Delegation meeting yesterday, I have held further
consultations with delegations, together with the negotiating group
Chairs, in order to progress our critical work. Taking into account
your concerns yesterday regarding participation and inclusiveness,
the format of my consultations involved both a small as well as a
larger and broadly representative group of delegations, including
Focus in these discussions continued to be on the six key elements
in Agriculture and the three key elements in NAMA which I outlined
to you on Wednesday, and which I considered to be the most difficult
and urgent, and therefore key to possible progress in other areas as
well. At the same time, the negotiating group Chairs have continued
to consult on a number of other issues.
My overall impression is that some convergences have been recorded,
but that progress remains painfully slow after four days of
Ministerial-level negotiation. We have to change gears very quickly
today to turn things around in the limited time remaining, and I
will come back to this in a moment.
To report briefly on substance, on Agriculture, there is agreement
to work within the ranges in the draft modalities text, but there
remain serious differences between the low end and high end of many
ranges. On the US and EC OTDS, we are not there yet. However, there
is convergence around a 70 per cent cut in the top band. Let me note
once again that the Cotton issue is linked to the outcome of the
With respect to tariffs in excess of 100 per cent, there was a
discussion of the ranges in the Chairman's text, but no convergence
Regarding sensitive products, we discussed both the numbers and
treatment. There was some convergence on the number of products
which could be designated as sensitive by Members, but still
problems for some.
Differences also persist on the size of TRQs expansion as percentage
of domestic consumption that should be provided as compensation.
There was limited discussion on whether Members should be permitted
to create new TRQs, as this issue is linked to the broader issue of
the number of tariff lines that could be designated as “sensitive”.
Regarding special products, we are not there yet on both the number
of tariff lines and the exemption of a certain percentage of tariff
lines from tariff cuts.
With respect to the special safeguard mechanism (SSM), which is
obviously a major issue, there was positive engagement and a number
of ideas were floated which the negotiating group Chair is following
up. With respect to the special safeguard (SSG), there were some
signs of flexibility.
On NAMA, there has been limited progress in narrowing the ranges on
formula and flexibilities. On anti-concentration, there were limited
signs of flexibility with references being made to possible numbers
of tariff lines and the value of trade. There was some sympathy for
the suggestion that small chapters containing few tariff lines could
be exempted from the application of this anti-concentration clause.
On sectorals, Members explored the possibility of language that
would make clear its non-mandatory nature but at the same time
allowing for its operationalisation, and the reference on this
remains the Chair's text.
The NAMA Chairman also reported to the larger consultative group on
his separate consultations, notably regarding non-reciprocal
preferences, SVEs, and treatment for the Bolivarian Republic of
So, as I have said, modest progress in four days of
Ministerial-level negotiation. I believe there is still time to turn
this around. But, the issues will not mature unless positions move —
and move quite radically — in our next round of consultations
starting with the small group after this HODs meeting. If we do not
see this rapid progress towards convergences, I am afraid that the
deal you all came here to do this week will not happen, with the
This is the blunt reality. The situation as I see it is critical,
edging between success and failure. I believe a mutually beneficial
Doha package is very much within your grasp, but you will all have
to give hard thought to your red lines, not in a week or month but
in the next hours. If you, the negotiators, show no further
flexibility to deliver outcomes that take account of different
interests in the next hours, you will face the serious consequences
We are confronted with both a historic opportunity and, equally, a
very heavy responsibility. The world outside will not understand if
we fail to grasp this opportunity to be able to conclude a Round
that already has a great deal on the table.
Time is running out, and the next 24 hours are crucial. So I ask all
of you once again to spare no effort to resolve the outstanding
issues. The result will truly be a grand prize for all of you.
I would now like to ask Minister Støre to report on the work he has
been doing on my invitation on the TRIPS-related issues of GIs and
the TRIPS/CBD relationship.
[Report by Minister Støre.]
I would like to thank Minister Støre for his report and for the work
he is undertaking to facilitate convergence on how to take these
In the light of what I have set out regarding our process over the
next few hours, it will be necessary to postpone the formal TNC
originally convened for tomorrow, and an airgram will shortly be
issued for that purpose. If the Services Signalling Conference were
also to be rescheduled, delegations will be advised accordingly.
Finally, I would urge all delegations to stand ready to meet again
in this format at short notice and at any time over the next 24
hours. So please ensure that the links between the Secretariat and
your delegations can be activated at any time. This is absolutely
With these words, I will ask now those delegations who wish to speak
at this HODs meeting to take the floor. May I request that, as you
have done before, you keep your remarks as brief and focused as
possible. Following this meeting, the negotiating group Chairs and I
will renew our consultations on Agriculture and NAMA, starting first
with the small group. We will then revert to the larger group
format, with the participation of coordinators of the various
groups, before reporting back to this HODs meeting.
The floor is open.
[Statements from delegations.]
Thank you for your observations and
suggestions. Let me address rapidly a few points. As far as the
process is concerned, there will be no surprises: we are working in
concentric circles leading to a meeting of the Trade Negotiations
Committee. As far as texts are concerned, once again there will be
no surprises. We are working with Chairs' texts which — if
convergence appears — will be revised. You know these texts and have
been working on them for months and months. There is no way new
texts could appear without convergence. The only way to proceed is
to try and bring about the convergence that's potentially in these
texts, narrow it, and then revise the texts. So, if convergence
appears, these texts will be revised and you will all then need to
look at them. I know that all of this takes a bit of time. Time can
be painful in the incertitude as long as the process is edging
between success and failure. But, if we were to move to the other
side of probability of success, time will be useful. We don't have a
lot of that, but I can tell you the way you measure time will change
at that moment. You have repeatedly said that you would need time to
consider, review and consult on any revised texts, and if we get to
that point you will have some time.
As to the question of the availability of the Chair of the
Agriculture negotiations to consult with the G-10, for the moment I
need his expertise, his knowledge and his wisdom as I do that of the
NAMA and General Council Chairs. I need them with me. The G-10, like
others, will undoubtedly have a moment to shoulder its
responsibilities if convergence is accelerated. But, we have to
settle the general before going to the specifics. We need an overall
balance. At the same time, we know that there are specific
sensitivities here and there. We have a system of rules that are for
everybody — we know that for 60 years — but some have a bit of a
stone in their shoe when they have to run on Agriculture or NAMA or
TRIPS. So, we know that we have to address the specificities at some
stage, but we cannot do that before we have a balance that might
work. So, there will be a time for the G-10 countries to re-express
how specific their problem is, and it will also be the time where
they will have to call their shots, politically, on whether or not
the G-10 can live with what is on the table. As any other Member,
the G-10 will have the right to agree or disagree. It is just a
question of getting there.
Finally, while questions of process are of course important, in the
coming hours what is important is substance. The only question in
the coming hours is whether Members are ready to cross the red lines
they've expressed until now. If the answer is yes, it can work; if
no, it won't work. And that is a purely substantive issue. That is
what we are trying to do, and I hope we can make it. I am not sure
we can make it, but that's what we have to work on and then come to
this HODs meeting. Thank you, and we will reconvene tomorrow at the
same time and place.
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