WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO


26 January 2000

DG Moore Embarks on Consultations on Future WTO Work

WTO Director-General Mike Moore has held a series of consultations with Ministers and Ambassadors from Member governments, in recent weeks, in an effort designed to build confidence and prepare the organization for future action.

“ I've now spoken to several dozen Ministers since Seattle and can clearly see how we can get momentum in Geneva.” Mr Mike Moore said “The WTO will in a business-like way, make constructive efforts to produce realistic steps aimed at building confidence among Member governments and the public at large.”

“We are committed to negotiations in agriculture and services, sectors which cover over half the world's economy. We should address the market access problems of the poorest nations and seek to build their capacity to engage and contribute.”

Mr Moore said it was imperative to address in an expeditious and realistic way, the very real problems some countries have faced with implementing existing WTO agreements. The structure and system of the WTO procedures must also be examined, Mr Moore said, to see what improvements can be made.

“For the first few months of this year the WTO will adopt the posture of the swan - serene on top of the water and paddling furiously under the water,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore began the New Year with a 9 January trip to India where he met Prime Minister Vajpayee, Minister for Commerce and Industry. While in New Delhi Mr. Moore held meetings with Ministers from South Africa, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

On 17-18 January, Mr Moore was in Brussels holding talks with Pascal Lamy, the European Union Commissioner for Trade and the Secretariat of the ACP which represents African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

Mr Moore held talks on 19-20 January with senior U.S. officials in Washington, including US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat.

The Director-General also met with Kofi Annan at the UN Headquarters in New York, and shared ideas about development issues and common problems with the UN Secretary-General and the heads of other agencies such as UNCTAD, the International Labour Organization and the UN Development Programme.

While in Washington, Mr Moore met World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn, to discuss issues of development and ways of making international organizations more responsive to the needs of their shareholders, the people represented by the Member governments.

Mr Moore said each organization in the international community has a specific role to play in lifting living standards for working families around the world and in assisting governments on matters of development and economic growth.

“Our core business and principles remain as mandated by the Member Governments. We exist to lift living standards, and create more jobs and income by negotiating market openings. We know this in itself is never enough. Issues of debt, infrastructural investment, education, health and capacity-building are all important to assist nations to prosper in a changing world. We need therefore to work alongside the other international institutions in a coherent and practical way,” Mr Moore said.

The Director-General said there will be intensive discussions in capitals and with Geneva-based Ambassadors over the next few weeks directed at putting the WTO back on track with its programme of work.

“In the calm of the aftermath of Seattle where we failed to reach a consensus among our 135 Members, there has been a sober and realistic assessment. We will seek to make the WTO more responsive to the needs of Member governments. We will focus on immediate needs of our Members and build on that to prepare for the future. Otherwise the world economy will suffer, the needs of the poorer nations will continue to be ignored and growth, stagnate,” he said.