WTO: 2011 NEWS ITEMS

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE: INFORMAL MEETING

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THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.

“INFORMAL MEETING” means there are no minutes.

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Director-General Pascal Lamy’s statement
Informal Trade Negotiations Committee meeting,
22 June 2011

I would like to welcome you to this informal TNC meeting.

You will recall that at our last TNC meeting on 31 May, we agreed that I undertake further consultations in order to have more clarity on our targets for December.  We also agreed to meet on 9 June to hear my report on these further consultations and to discuss together the next steps.  As I later informed you in a fax dated 7 June, a number of Members indicated to me during the consultations that it would be productive to allow our process a little more time, not least to enable consultations with capitals.  I shared this view.  Accordingly, I decided to postpone the TNC to today.

Let me now report to you on my consultations since our last TNC.  As agreed, over the past couple of weeks, I undertook further consultations with a number of you individually and in groups to seek further clarity on what is possible and what is not possible by December.  The aim of my consultations was to try to facilitate convergence on refining the parameters of our work towards December.

Here in Geneva I have met with delegations from groups representing the broad range of the membership, and in particular the G-7 and the G-90.  Outside Geneva, I attended the World Economic Forum Asia Conference/Aid for Trade Regional Review in Jakarta, including a Ministerial lunch hosted by Minister Mari Pangestu.  This gave a useful and timely opportunity to gauge the level of support and concern for the Round in this key region. I can report that it was strong and positive. I also held a Green Room meeting yesterday.

From all my contacts, it is clear that the level of political commitment to a successful conclusion of the Doha Round, including to our collective aspirations for this year and beyond, remains strong.  Furthermore, Members' commitment to preserving the credibility of the multilateral trading system remains unwavering.  They also continue to place development at the heart of the negotiations.

But, it is also obvious that we need urgently to have clarity about what we can and cannot do by the Ministerial Conference in December so that we get down to work without further delay.  Time is certainly not on our side and we need urgently, honestly and realistically to define the boundaries for our work over the next 13 working weeks or so, if we are to avoid further drifting and the credibility damage this entails.

My consultations over the past couple of weeks have shown that — on the whole — Members are ready to work intensively between now and the end of the year with the idea of deliverables in time for MC8.

It is clear that by December you will not be able to reach consensus on all areas under the Doha agenda and, therefore, we will not be able to get a final view on ambition and balance.  This will only be possible at the end of the Round.

It is also clear that a discussion on deliverables for December cannot be a negotiation of a “single undertaking” within the “single undertaking” which is the Doha mandate.  What we are aiming at is no more and no less than setting in place a negotiating process to achieve a set of deliverables in accordance with paragraph 47 of the Doha Declaration.

In order to facilitate an outcome which our least developed Members have been waiting for since Hong Kong in 2005, and which would include Duty-Free Quota-Free and the associated rules of origin, a step forward on cotton and the services waiver, I have explored the possibility of a so-called LDC Plus package.

In my judgment, and this is merely an indicative list, this plus could include issues such as Trade Facilitation, export competition, S&D Monitoring Mechanism, a step forward on fisheries subsidies and a step forward on environmental goods and services. Again, this is not an exhaustive set of issues and it does not preclude other issues from being worked upon and eventually delivered by the end of the year.  This is very much something which is in Members' hands.  It is certainly my expectation that we will work as hard as we can to advance as many issues as possible by the end of the year — as a signal of credibility of the negotiations still to come on the remainder of the topics.

I think it would be fair to describe the attitude of the delegations with whom I have consulted as constructive, but cautious.  Approached in isolation, each of the issues I have mentioned has its own problems, but there is also a sense that when linkages are taken into account — and there are linkages being drawn by some Members in these issues — perhaps there is some room for manoeuvre.  In other words, I believe that delegations consider it worthwhile trying to move ahead and further explore these issues and test whether an acceptable balance can be found.

It is also very clear from my consultations that we need to consider the post-MC8 work on the DDA. As many delegations have said, we will need to establish a shared view of the process post‑MC8 for advancing negotiations on issues that remain outstanding, including the cluster of market access issues in NAMA, agriculture and services.

In terms of immediate process, I suggest that the negotiating groups focus on some of these specific issues I have tried to identify. Chairs and myself will consult on the best way to do that, depending on the issues. TNCs will review the overall situation and ensure transparency. I also intend to complement this with smaller groupings in variable geometry, at Ambassador level, and also with Green Rooms to encourage and facilitate movement.  As usual, I strongly recommend that Ambassadors remain fully engaged throughout and in every aspect of this process.

We will also need to keep our progress under review and be prepared to evaluate it realistically.  I am well aware of the dangers of drifting towards the ministerial with a collection of unresolved issues.  However, on this, the evaluation will depend very much on you all and the convergence you can reach. The time for discussion is gone — you now need to negotiate.

In short, loads of work and challenges ahead and no guarantee of success. But, in my view it is worth trying — and it is our duty to do so.

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