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30 November 1999
Chairperson outlines organization of informal working sessions

The Chairperson of the Third WTO Ministerial Conference, US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, announced at the plenary meeting held today, 30 November, the creation of four Ministerial Working Groups on key areas of the Seattle Ministerial Declaration. A fifth group—on "systemic" issues—will focus on members’ concerns about the way the WTO works such as transparency and ensuring all members can participate fully in WTO activities.

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Ambassador Barshefsky said that the Chairs of these groups have started consulting with delegations to establish a solid basis for their work. Each group will be open to all delegations and will report each morning to a Committee of the Whole, chaired by Ambassador Barshefsky.

She said that she will be working closely with the Chairs and with Director-General Mike Moore "to ensure the overall progress and balance of the drafting".

The Ministerial Working Groups and their respective Chairs:

1. Agriculture Trade and Industry Minister George YEO (Singapore)

2. Implementation and Rules International Trade Minister Pierre S. PETTIGREW (Canada)

3. Market Access Minister of Trade, Industry and Marketing Mpho MALIE (Lesotho)

4. Singapore Agenda & Other Issues International Trade Minister Alexander LOCKWOOD SMITH (New Zealand)

5. Systemic Issues Foreign Affairs Minister Juan Gabriel VALDES (Chile)

Co-Chair: Commerce, Business Development and Investment Minister Anup KUMAR (Fiji)