on the Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference
> Negotiations, implementation and development: the Doha agenda
> The Doha Declaration explained
> The Implementation Decision explained
> How the negotiations are organized
> The Trade Negotiations Committee
Thank you all for coming to this meeting.
As I foreshadowed in my fax to delegations on 10 November, the purpose of this meeting is to “kick-off”, so to speak, the Senior Officials Week. I am pleased to note the large number of Senior Officials that have made the trip to Geneva this week.
Delegations will all have seen the preliminary programme which was circulated on 10 November. That programme remains largely intact with a few minor modifications. In particular, the open-ended meeting of the CTD SS [Committee on Trade and Development - Special Session] originally planned for Tuesday afternoon no longer features on the programme. The Chairman believes that the meeting already scheduled for the 3rd Senior Officials Week in December is the more appropriate opportunity to review the status of work.
As I said in the fax, this programme has been compiled and circulated in the interest of transparency and inclusiveness and to provide delegations with the opportunity to organize themselves over the next few days. This continuing commitment to a predictable and transparent process will guide not only this Senior Official Week, but all of our work as we move to the Ministerial Conference and onwards to the next Senior Official Week in December.
Let me say a few words, more generally, how I see the activities of this week. First of all, and more generally, this second Senior Officials Week signals members' adherence to the Work Programme we developed together further to the call made by Ministers at the New Delhi meeting. This meeting will be followed by a third Senior Officials Week in mid-December. In other words, members are not taking their foot off the accelerator, even if we still seem to be moving at below Geneva city-centre speed limit!
In more specific terms, this week's meeting on agriculture will continue last week's engagement on templates and the Chairman may further explore a number of outstanding modalities issues, including the SSM [Special Safeguard Mechanism] where I understand useful technical engagement is taking place. I understand that various groups are also continuing talks on the issue of tropical products and that the Chair is hoping for a fuller picture of these talks to emerge in time for the December Senior Officials Meeting.
On NAMA [non-agricultural market access], I understand that this week's meeting will follow up and build on the positive engagement seen so far on NTBs [non-tariff barriers]. The Chairman also envisages a discussion of the questions that were made available to Senior Officials in October to frame the discussion over remaining open issues.
On services, the Chairman has indicated that he will be seeking to continue work on a draft text on the implementation of the LDC [least-developed countries] modalities, which has started taking shape. This is good news. In addition, I understand he will be addressing the domestic regulation disciplines that are currently in a text-based phase of the negotiations. He will also be consulting on GATS [General Agreement on Trade in Services] Rules.
In Rules, the Chair will be meeting in an open-ended format with the presence of senior officials to review the state-of-play in the Rules negotiations including the systemic issues of RTAs [regional trade agreements], where no serious engagement has taken place so far. This will be the first time that these issues will be addressed at a high level and I hope the Chair will get greater clarity on the programme of work moving forward.
In the TRIPS [Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] Special Session on Friday, the Chair will present his hand-over report which assesses the status of the negotiations and also presents suggestions for the way forward. Members will have the opportunity to put their views and reactions to the report on record.
On environment, a number of new proposals have been tabled very recently, and in particular on the environmental goods and services part of the mandate. This week could provide useful political focus over this chapter.
I hope these meetings, as well as other activities you will be engaging in this week, will help provide the momentum we need as we move towards the Ministerial Conference. I also believe this week will be important in setting the tone and preparing for the next Senior Officials Meeting in December.
This time next week, the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference will be opening. This is the first time in almost four years that we bring together our political masters to review the activities of the multilateral trading system and provide the necessary guidance to the institution for the next few years.
We have all agreed that this regular Ministerial Conference will not be a negotiating session and that the DDA [Doha Development Agenda] negotiations are on their own, separate, Geneva-based track where we are trying to resolve remaining issues. At the same time, I think we agree that what is needed more than anything in the current economic situation is a platform for Ministers to exchange views on the entire WTO waterfront, the conclusion of the DDA being first among such issues.
The presence of Senior Officials here this week, I am convinced, provides a very appropriate and timely linkage between the Geneva process, capital-based Senior Officials and Ministers just days before our Ministerial Conference. In a way, your presence here this week offers a perfect opportunity to ensure that any disconnect between the Geneva negotiating platform and the signals coming from political masters in capitals is identified, scrutinized and resolved.
We will have an opportunity to elaborate on the outcome of this week's work at the informal TNC [Trade Negotiations Committee] on Friday afternoon. In the meantime the Chairs and myself remain available to consult with any delegation. I myself will be holding a Green Room on Thursday afternoon.
The good news today is that the CERN has managed to get its accelerator working again. In the interest of coherence I guess the WTO should now follow suit and seriously move to a higher speed.
This concludes my statement. Let me now open the floor to any delegation wishing to intervene at this stage.
The floor is open.