19 July 2004

Supachai calls on WTO Governments to reach agreement

Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi today called on WTO Member Governments to make every effort over the next two weeks to strike a deal on a framework accord in the Doha Development Agenda which would pave the way for the elimination of all forms of farm export subsidies, enhanced trading opportunities for all countries and more equitable rules for global trade.

“It is only Member Governments which have the power to bring about convergence. There is no doubt that political leaders throughout the WTO membership want to agree on a July package that re-energizes the DDA. There is a great deal of political commitment invested in our efforts and governments know that the future of the DDA, where agreement can help lift living standards around the world, will be determined by what we do here in the next two weeks,” he said.

Last Friday, Director-General Supachai and General Council Chairman Shotaro Oshima issued a draft negotiating text as a means of focussing negotiators on the task of reaching interim agreements on agriculture, non-agricultural market access, development issues and trade facilitation.

“This paper is not an agreed text but a negotiating document. We expect it will evolve over the course of the coming days. However, it is important to remember that this text is based on consultations and negotiations stretching back many months. It represents a balance of interests that should form the basis for consensus. Clearly, there will be areas of this text with which members take issue. No Government can expect to get everything it wants from any text. But in an organization in which all significant decisions are taken by consensus of all Governments a balanced outcome providing something for everyone is the only way in which agreement can be reached,” Director-General Supachai said.

The Director-General and the General Council Chairman will hold consultations with Governments throughout this week in preparation for next week's General Council meeting at which a decision on the package of framework agreements must be reached. Director-General Supachai reminded all members that they have much to gain through an agreement.

“But a failure this month means the continuation of an unsatisfactory status quo, certainly for the remainder of this year and next and possibly for years to come. At a time when protectionist pressures lie just below the surface, when people across the world are demanding change, the 147 Member Governments of the World Trade Organization must deliver. There is no satisfactory alternative to the multilateral trading system. But should confidence in our system erode further, we should not be surprised if countries pursue other means of rule-making in trade. All of us would be poorer for such an outcome,” he said.