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8 December 1995

Good beginning to Uruguay Round implementation, says WTO Director-General

Need for "non-confrontational agenda" at Singapore Ministerial stressed

The implementation of Uruguay Round commitments has been “broadly satisfactory in most areas”, especially considering the scope and complexity of the WTO Agreement, “but clearly a lot remains to be done next year”.

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This is one of the main conclusions of the WTO's Director-General, Renato Ruggiero, in a report(1) to the General Council on the Organization's first year. Having discussed a number of new issues facing the multilateral trading system, Mr Ruggiero calls for "essentially a non-confrontational" agenda for the WTO's first Ministerial Conference scheduled for December 1996 in Singapore. He comments:

"The agenda for that meeting will include an evaluation of progress in implementing the Uruguay Round commitments, including the obligation for the Ministerial Conference to review progress in areas ranging from trade and the environment to the impact of the Round on least-developed countries. This means that the Singapore agenda should be essentially a non-confrontational one, and we should be on our guard against any attempts to make it anything else. Likewise the future work of the WTO, to which we all hope Singapore will give a fresh impetus, has some clear agreed directions. And even at the frontier of the multilateral system -the suggested new agenda items - I am confident that we will be able to ensure that the system continues to move forward, as it must, on the basis on consensus."

The report reviews the work of all the WTO representative bodies including those dealing with agriculture, dispute settlement, textiles and clothing, services, intellectual property and regional trading arrangements. With respect to the first years of implementing the Uruguay Round results it tackles the following: first, fulfilment of notification requirements; second, implementation of substantive commitments to bring domestic legislation into conformity with WTO obligations and to implement scheduled increases in market access; and, third, the fulfilment of other tasks laid down in the WTO agreements.

On notifications, the report notes, for instance, a rather negative situation with respect to the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures where less than one-quarter of the Members have notified subsidy programs. On the other hand, almost 90 per cent of the Members required to notify integration programmes under the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing have done so. With respect to the implementation of substantive commitments, Mr. Ruggiero concludes:

"We made a good beginning this year with respect to some aspects of the implementation of the Uruguay Round results. But the coming year will be even more crucial. Implementation must continue, in some instances at an accelerated pace to make up for inadequate progress this year."

In reviewing possible additional topics for multilateral consideration, Mr Ruggiero looks at regionalism, investment and competition policies as well as, briefly, arguments on the linking of internationally recognized labour standards to the trading system.

(1)"Overview of Developments in International Trade and the Trading System", available free from the Secretariat of the World Trade Organization.