TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE & HEADS OF DELEGATION
The Director-General said:
In his remarks the Director-General also reviewed progress on various issues under discussion at the WTO. He noted the progress that was being made in the negotiations on tackling fisheries subsidies, which would deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 14.6, and called on members to be ready to engage at the political level in order to deliver an agreement within the 2019 deadline.
“We must do more to make the WTO faster and more responsive to members' needs. We have achieved a lot in recent years. Since 2013 we have delivered new agreements in a variety of shapes and sizes. We must find ways to keep evolving if the system is to have a chance. Multilateralism will not survive if it becomes a synonym of paralysis.
“We must also tackle the impasse in the WTO Appellate Body. This situation is clearly of utmost concern and urgency. Dialogue is improving and I believe we must start thinking about all possible options at this point. People are looking at December as the deadline. But the reality is that the situation in December is already affecting decisions today. Members need to come up with answers and start working on all possible options now, not in December. We do not have 10 months to play with.
“Looking across all of these issues, I cannot think of a moment when the systemic threats have been greater. But I also believe that we have a political window to act. It could be said that one positive aspect of the current trade tensions is that it has encouraged members to speak up in support of the multilateral trading system – and for multilateralism more broadly. And I am very grateful for this support. It is our duty to remind the world at every opportunity how much multilateral cooperation matters – and, importantly, how much our organization matters.”