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Report by the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee

Since my last report to the General Council in May, the TNC has met informally on two occasions to discuss and review developments in the DDA negotiations. The more frequent rhythm of meetings of this multilateral body is in line with my undertaking to delegations at the March stocktaking. In light of the beginning of a new dynamic which has recently characterized the DDA negotiations, I believe that we need to continue with these regular meetings in the interest of transparency and inclusiveness.

At the informal TNC earlier this week Members engaged in a useful collective assessment of the state-of-play in the DDA negotiations and mapped together the next steps in the autumn. I also provided delegations with a short overview of my recent activities and meetings — external as well as internal. I will not repeat the whole of my statement to the TNC, which has been circulated to Members, but with your permission I will highlight a few main points.

I reported on my message to, and impressions from, the G20 Heads of State and Government in Toronto. My message to Ministers and to Leaders in Toronto was simple:

(i) exiting the crisis means that growth is needed to create jobs without greater strains on national budgets and that trade offers this; and

(ii) concluding the Doha Round has to be an integral part of the G20 co ordinated strategy to move forward. The impression that I took away from the G20 discussion on the DDA was one of realism — that gaps remain on the right level of ambition and on the right balance in the contributions by Members, but also one of determination - that there is a an overall desire to move the DDA negotiations to a conclusion as soon as possible, consistent with the mandate and based on progress already made.

Since the March Stocktaking the Geneva process has been working according to the “cocktail” approach that the membership endorsed at that time. This process, and its ingredients — smaller groups in variable geometry, bilateral contacts and my own consultations — have been working more intensively and with purpose. Of course, these ingredients have to be given space and time, but there is general agreement that their ultimate purpose is to energise the multilateral process, into which they must feed. All my recent contacts as well as the large majority of interventions at the informal TNC have made it crystal clear that the core of the DDA negotiations remains the multilateral process, i.e. the Negotiating Groups and the TNC.

At the informal TNC earlier this week I provided Members with a brief outline of the state of play in each of the negotiating areas as well as an insight into the process for work after the summer break. This process met with wide support from delegations.

Looking ahead to our work after the summer break and the challenges in the last quarter of 2010 I detected energy in the membership and a belief that the various processes in place in Geneva can lead to moving from process to tackle substantive issues. As I said on Tuesday and in keeping with the cocktail analogy, I believe we have the ingredients for our drink of choice. The mood music has become a bit more upbeat. It is time we start shaking the cocktail.

Before I conclude, Mr. Chairman, let me also say a few words on recent trade developments and on Aid for Trade, despite the fact that these fall outside the DDA.

As you are all aware, my latest report reviewing trade and trade-related developments in the period from 1 November 2009 to mid-May 2010 was circulated in document WT/TPR/OV/W/3. At the informal meeting of the TPRB on 8 July, I cautioned that although we had started witnessing encouraging news illustrating economic recovery in many parts of the world, particularly in emerging economies, the world economy was not completely out of the woods. Concerns about the fragility of recovery, persistence of high unemployment levels and growing public finance difficulties in some economies remained. These are some of the challenges not only for the global economy, but also for the multilateral trading system. I urged vigilance to ensure that our system continued to serve as an insurance policy against the resurgence of protectionism in difficult times.

You all know that, leaders around the world, including at the Toronto G20 summit have reaffirmed and extended previous commitments to resisting protectionism and their request for continued monitoring and quarterly reporting. This is encouraging and my next report on these issue is foreseen for early November.

On Aid for Trade, work on this front is advancing well and we need to ensure that we sustain these efforts. A series of meetings at the regional and national level have taken place during the first half of this year and it is encouraging that Ministers and leaders around the world, including the APEC, the G20, Caribbean Community, African Union have urged that the momentum on Aid for Trade should be maintained. The call to accelerate regional projects on Aid for Trade is also encouraging.

The Enhanced Integrated Framework which is the special Aid for Trade vehicle for LDCs is also now up and running and focusing on concrete deliverables on the ground.

There is much reason to be proud of the progress we have achieved. But we must not rest on our laurels. We now need to show the positive effects of our collective endeavour. This is why we must place reporting on outcomes and impacts at the core of the Third Global Review of Aid for Trade a year from now, in July 2011. For us to sustain progress, we need to be able to report on impacts and outcomes. If positive to maintain funding; if less positive, to correct trajectory.

Two months from now we will be gathering in New York for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit, to look at progress achieved in combating poverty. The strengthening of the multilateral trading system through the conclusion of the DDA and Aid for Trade are the contributions that the WTO has to make to this goal. I hope we can collectively respond to this challenge.


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