DG Azevêdo congratulated the Group on the initiative to hold the retreat and reviewed some of the next steps which would be needed to take forward the decisions on LDC issues which were taken at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference and at the previous Ministerial Conference, held in Bali in 2013. He also gave an overview of the current discussions among WTO members about the organization’s negotiating work:
“This is an important period, and so I invite the Group to put forward its ideas about the future shape of our negotiating work. Everyone should be doing two things: first, offering their views about what our priorities should be and, second, making suggestions about how to move these priorities forward.
“On the remaining Doha issues I suggest you explore with the chairs of the negotiating groups the nature of the difficulties we face. Then we need to try to reflect creatively on how to overcome them. In my exchanges with members — in capitals and in Geneva — I have been trying to focus attention on all these issues. We need to bring new ideas to the table if we are going to find solutions. In addition, many members also raised the possibility of discussing non-DDA issues. A range of such issues have been raised with me by a very wide range of members, including LDCs. So, again, I would encourage you to consider which issues are most important to you and to make your voices heard in this conversation.
“I am optimistic about what we may be able to achieve. We have now delivered two successful ministerial conferences in a row. Of course the results were not perfect — but they were significant. They show that we can achieve significant outcomes if we work hard enough.
“Advancing the interests of LDCs is a priority for me personally. It is also an institutional priority for the WTO. We have to use the momentum from Bali and Nairobi to continue pushing our work forward towards the 11th Ministerial Conference. Whether it is our regular work, negotiations, or matters of technical assistance, LDCs will continue to receive special attention. So I look forward to continuing to work closely with you on all of these areas.”
DG Azevêdo was speaking in a panel session entitled “Overview of Nairobi outcomes for LDCs and the way forward to the 11th Ministerial Conference and towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”. The panel was chaired by the Coordinator of the LDC Group, Ambassador Eloi Laourou of Benin.