HEADS OF DELEGATIONS
The Director-General gave members his assessment of the state of play in negotiations after his consultations in recent weeks, which included an informal ministerial meeting in Marrakesh convened and co-chaired by the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Government of Argentina; a meeting with the trade ministers of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group; a visit to Washington to attend the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, which included a meeting with the US Trade Representative; as well as meetings with the African Group and the Group of Francophone ambassadors in Geneva.
During the meeting the chairs of the negotiating groups also briefed members on their recent consultations. Forty-four members took the floor in the subsequent debate.
The Director-General said:
“As our upcoming Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires draws nearer, there has been a lot of activity taking place amongst members. Discussions are ongoing in many areas. While there are some signs of potential convergence in some areas, in many others this is not the case. We need to be very mindful of this. Given this situation, I think that members will soon have to decide which issues can be brought forward for ministers' consideration at the Conference - and which issues are not advancing fast enough to be resolved by that time. I think that this honest assessment will allow us to focus our minds on shaping what outcomes in Buenos Aires could look like, and also to start setting a game plan for our work after Buenos Aires – including the issues that need more time to mature. In all of this, flexibility and pragmatism will be essential.
“As I have said before, proponents have a particular responsibility here to build momentum behind their ideas. The chairs and I will do our part to keep the entire membership on board for any progress that you can collectively achieve. But each and every delegation has a role to play. We must all continue working and reaching out to each other. I hope that we can leave Buenos Aires with members committed to strengthening the trading system and with a clear path forward for our future work on as many issues as possible.
“I have found my recent interactions with ministers to be extremely helpful in raising their awareness of the discussions taking place in Geneva. I have also welcomed the strong reaffirmations of support for a successful MC11 that I have received during these various discussions. I hope we can continue building on this constructive dialogue.”