Heads of delegation/TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE

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The Director-General said:

"I've been getting questions inside and outside these walls about what WTO reform will entail. I think there are two basic misconceptions here. The first is talking about reform as if it's in the future. Reform is already happening. The second misconception is assuming that we can define it all now. I think members must define as they go. This process is for members to shape. What a reformed WTO may look like will depend on what you set out to achieve, and what you actually manage to deliver. No area of our work is perfect. All of it can be improved. And we will always need to be alert to how the system can better respond to members' concerns and adapt to economic conditions.

"What is clear is that this reform process is a serious test for this organisation. Either we evolve and adapt in order to deliver on the expectations of our users – or, ultimately, we give way to a fragmentation of the global trading system. I think it is incumbent on all of us who believe in multilateralism to respond to the challenges of today, not to rely on recipes designed for other times.

"It may well be that some of the paths forward will not be followed by all, but they must be available to all and no one should be forced to take them. Where those paths will lead, we will see when we get there. But don’t pack for a short trip. The challenges we have before us will not be tackled overnight – or over a few months. We are in for a rather long journey. But I believe it is one that is unavoidable. Staying where we are is not an option. In fact, the journey has already begun, whether one realises this or not. So let's seize this opportunity to update and strengthen the system."

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