The Director-General said:

“2017 is an important year as we prepare for our 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December. It is therefore encouraging that the year has gotten off to a very good start for the WTO with the entry into force of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement and the Trade Facilitation Agreement. And I hope that this positive news will provide us with the momentum to make further progress this year.

“There has been a lot of activity here in Geneva. But from my discussions to date, my honest assessment is that in all areas we still have a long way to go — and a huge amount of work ahead if we are to arrive at concrete outcomes. In practical terms we have just 8 months between now and the 11th Ministerial Conference. Progress has to be driven by members, and so they will have to quickly think about how they wish to advance, and on which areas. I think the proponents in particular must further intensify their engagement with other members in order to move forward. I welcome that many members are doing this, but we need to be mindful that time is moving quickly. 

“If proposals are to be forthcoming, I think members need to see them as soon as possible. The time is fast approaching when we will have to transition from the current stage of conceptual and general discussions to much greater specificity. I hope we can achieve this by the summer. Of course MC11 is not the end of the road. I think the most productive approach if we want to deliver substantive outcomes is to aim to achieve outcomes pragmatically and — if needed — incrementally. Those areas that are not ripe by then could be delivered at a later stage. Of course as part of this we need to keep focused on the implementation of existing decisions, and development needs to be a key element as we look to advance any issue.

“Members’ willingness to be flexible, open-minded and pragmatic will be essential. Continued engagement from capitals will also be key. This should be happening now. And, finally, I would urge members to try to build the needs of others into their proposals — particularly the needs of the least-developed countries.” 

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