TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE

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The Director-General said:

"Concerns about rising trade tensions and the blockage in appointments to the Appellate Body are very widely shared among the membership. As long as tensions persist between major trading partners, the risk of a serious escalation remains very real. We must do all we can to avoid going down this path and taking measures that are difficult to reverse. When trade restrictions are pursued in this way it can threaten growth and job creation everywhere. Today two thirds of global trade takes place through global value chains - and this clearly illustrates the potential for knock-on effects. And in these situations it is often the smaller players and the poorest communities that stand to lose the most. Resolving these issues is in everyone's urgent interest.

"I am continuing to talk to members, and urge all sides to be very cautious in how they proceed. It is positive that these matters are being taken up in the regular bodies of the WTO. The issues have been discussed in the Safeguards Committee and in the Council on Trade in Goods, for example, as well as in the General Council. In addition, members continue to bring their disputes to the WTO. The system was built to resolve these problems in a way that prevents further escalation – and so it is right that members are using it. I believe that the WTO has a crucial role to play here – as we have done many times before.

"I also encourage members to continue pursuing their bilateral contacts, to complement multilateral processes. The important thing is that conversations are taking place, and that members are trying to find solutions.

"It is also of utmost importance that members work to resolve the impasse regarding nominations for the Appellate Body. If we do not find a solution here – whatever shape that solution may take – we could severely compromise the whole multilateral trading system. I can't emphasize enough the systemic importance of this point. So again I urge members to engage and talk to each other in a solution-finding mode."

Regarding the WTO's ongoing negotiating work, the meeting heard reports from the Chairs of the Negotiating Groups. The Director-General commented that "we are still in early stages of our work after Buenos Aires, but I think it is very positive to see members meeting and engaging. And I think that we need to maintain a sense of urgency. This applies particularly in areas where we have specific deadlines, such as in fisheries subsidies – but also in areas where we are already behind the schedule that members set themselves, for example on public stockholding."

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