of the Assembly, Council and Committee members, Ladies and Gentlemen,
is a great pleasure to be here today. I am pleased to have this
opportunity to provide to you an update on the WTO's most recent
activities and also to present to you some ideas I have for taking
forward the Doha Development Agenda.
me begin by thanking you, the parliamentarians of the Council of
Europe, for the interest you have shown in the work of the WTO. This
is a good thing and I congratulate you. Parliamentarians in Europe and
the world over have a vital role to play in bringing international
organizations and people closer together.
these troubled times, it is important that we demonstrate that
multilateralism is alive and well, that discourse is the civilised way
to resolve differences and that the rule of law is paramount for our
collective security. These are values firmly embodied in the Council
of Europe. They also guide the WTO. They served as the basis for work
by WTO delegations preparing the 4th Ministerial Conference and were
reaffirmed in Doha when we adopted the Declaration. This was mentioned
by the Committee's rapporteur Mr. Mikko Elo in his report "The
Role of the World Trade Organization in the World Economy". I
congratulate him. As Mr. Elo pointed out, governments in Doha showed a
new spirit of economic cooperation. Indeed, Ministers remained
flexible and their actions showed they understood the constraints of
their fellow trading partners, especially those from developing
countries. Whether this meant finding added flexibility for some to
implement key WTO Agreements or ensuring that all WTO members have
access to essential medicines for their citizens, the mood was
positive, constructive and compassionate. The result is that the WTO -
after the setback in Seattle - is back on track. We can continue our
work with renewed vigour and confidence.
Doha, USTR Bob Zoellick said, we 'removed the stain of Seattle'. He
was right. We agreed to undertake a far-reaching set of negotiations
to be completed within a three-year timeframe — thus, the Seattle
syndrome has been replaced with the hope and expectation of the Doha
Development Agenda. Development issues and the interests of our poorer
Members are now at the heart of our work.
Doha success was built on a two-year preparatory process that was
transparent and inclusive. We will carry these principles into our
future work. We will ensure all our Members, especially the poorest,
are given every assistance and opportunity to participate in the
important step towards realizing this goal of fuller participation was
taken last month when the General Council approved a Secretariat
budget for 2002 that closely reflects the priorities identified by
Ministers in Doha, including in key areas such as technical
cooperation and capacity-building, coherence, advancing accessions and
doing a better job of explaining ourselves to those who pay our bills,
the outside world. Highlights of the budget include:
total budget of around CHF 143 million (around Euro 90 million),
representing an increase over 2001 of 6.75%,
of the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund with a proposed
core budget of CHF 15 million (around Euro 10 million) to provide
secure and predictable resources to build capacity,
funding to allow us to double the number of trainees from
developing countries who can attend the recently established WTO
funds for translation services,
for the Geneva Week programme, an initiative I launched to help
government officials without offices in Geneva participate more
fully in the work of the organization.
is much to do to ensure the negotiations are concluded within the
three-year timeframe agreed by Ministers. My duty is clear: to ensure
the Secretariat's activities assist Members to undertake and conclude
are preparing a programme of activities that will give heightened
attention to particular regions. For example, we are planning major
initiatives in coordination with other institutions in the Balkans and
Central Asia. Countries in these regions have regrettably not been
given adequate attention in the past.
will focus more closely on issues of coherence so we can produce
models of cooperation and synergies with other institutions. I have
already met with representatives of international agencies in Geneva
and elsewhere and will continue to do so at key meetings this year.
The objective is to help developing and least-developed countries
build their trade capacity. Of course, coherence is an issue that
needs to be pursued by all stakeholders. Those seeking assistance need
to be more specific about their needs. Donors need to better
coordinate their own efforts both in capitals and amongst each other.
The same is true of international agencies. Ministers at Doha asked us
to look closely at our relations with other international
organizations as well as with the public with whom we have been asked
to do better and to be more creative.
have already restructured the Secretariat to reflect the priorities of
the Doha Development Agenda. Efficiency gains and cost savings have
been introduced. I am committed to review again our operations to see
if we can further refine our objectives and activities.
this month, I convened a meeting of my Advisory Group. We discussed
the coherence issue and questions about how the WTO can operate more
effectively. The 12 experts come from different backgrounds and see
the world from different perspectives. While the debates were very
active, there was a common desire which all shared: to see a vibrant
and representative WTO serving all its member governments and their
people effectively. The work of the Advisory Group will fold into a
major seminar we have planned for April in which development issues,
the functioning and the financing of our Organization will be
discussed. There will be a parliamentary dimension to this important
seminar. There will be annual seminars of this nature. That in itself
is a revolution for the WTO.
me say a little more about this symposium. The symposium will focus on
key issues linked to the Doha Development Agenda such as trade and
debt, trade and finance and the impact of technology and the digital
divide. It will also look at issues of participation and problems
faced by capacity-constrained missions. It will consider other aspects
such as the functioning and financing of the WTO; external relations;
issues of social justice and the social, economic, environmental and
political impacts of globalisation.
of the new initiatives and actions I have discussed, and which are
based on the Doha Development Agenda, do not detract from the core
business of this Organization. It reinforces this critical work.
of the commitment of Ministers and Ambassadors, I think we can now
claim with confidence that we have truly given birth to the WTO. It is
now no longer the old GATT with a few symbolic gestures to the new
global realities. The WTO now better reflects the new needs of our
wider membership. It has adapted and is better equipped to face
today's challenges, especially those linked to the new trade round of
is perhaps timely to remind ourselves what we are pursuing in the
negotiations. The economic, development and environmental arguments
for a new round are compelling. Cutting by a third barriers to trade
in agriculture, manufacturing and services would boost the world
economy by $613 billion, according to one study from Michigan
University. That is equivalent to adding an economy the size of Canada
to the world economy. Doing away with all trade barriers would boost
the world economy by nearly $1.9 trillion, or the equivalent of 2
Chinas. The World Bank in its report on Global Economic Prospects
estimates that abolishing all trade barriers could boost global income
by $2,800 billion and lift 320 million people out of poverty by 2015.
course, these are only estimates and we can quibble about the figures.
But the basic message from study after study is clear: a new round
brings huge benefits. And to realize these benefits, coordinated
actions are needed to promote trade and reforms in both developed and
developing countries. Rich countries need to do more to reduce trade
distorting subsidies and dismantle their existing barriers on
competitive exports from developing countries.
countries need to grow their way out of poverty. Trade can serve as a
key engine of growth but currently products of developing countries
face many obstacles in entering the markets of rich countries. For
example, the 49 least-developed countries represent 10.5 per cent of
the world's population but account for less than 1 per cent of world
agricultural subsidies in dollar terms are two-thirds of Africa's
total GDP. Abolishing of these subsidies would return three times all
the Official Development Assistance put together to developing
countries. Kofi Annan wants $10 billion to fight Aids; that is just 12
days of subsidies in dollar terms.
me the development argument for undertaking and completing new
negotiations is clear. Notwithstanding the advances over the last 50
years, 1.2 billion people are still living on less than $1 a day.
Another 1.6 billion are living on less than $2 a day. It is a tragedy
that while our planet is blessed with sufficient resources to feed its
6 billion people, many are going hungry and living in misery. Poverty
in all its forms is the greatest threat to peace, democracy, the
environment and human rights. The poor fear marginalization more than
globalization. These injustices, this poverty, is a time-bomb against
the heart of liberty. In some places, failure to advance economically
is a threat to their democratic process. The first responsibility lies
with governments in these poor countries. Development requires peace,
good governance and sound economic policies. But there is also a role
that regional and international institutions must acknowledge and
has already been made on granting more market access to the
least-developed countries because of EU leadership, the US-Africa
bill, and other initiatives. Twenty-nine countries so far have granted
better conditions for these countries' exports. More can still be done
and efforts must be made to get the best outcome for the poorest
countries in a wider negotiation.
WTO's mission is to make trade freer and based on the rule of law. But
our overriding goal is to make peace possible through greater
prosperity for all. This is also the objective of the Council of
Europe. That's why I am pleased to share my thoughts with you today.
Your support and commitment to the multilateral trading system is
needed more than ever. This is important for the work of the WTO and
the upcoming negotiations. But we also have to ensure that our work is
not overburdened and does not unravel or lose momentum because of
trade disputes between major WTO trading partners. As you all know,
the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO is a huge success as all
WTO Members rely on the rule of law. Dispute settlement exists for a
reason but is not a substitute for dialogue, consultations and
important aspect of continuing work concerns WTO accessions. China and
Chinese Taipei are now Members, but we have another 27 countries
seeking to join. Both Russia and Ukraine are on the list and efforts
are being stepped up to ensure that the accession processes for them
and the 25 others are concluded as quickly as possible.
people have scrutinized the work of the WTO in the past. However, the
decision to launch new negotiations has put the WTO back in the
spotlight. Representatives of civil society, especially you,
parliamentarians who are elected, will no doubt follow the
negotiations closely and pay careful attention to progress being made
on such issues as environment, development and institutional issues.
members of the Council of Europe and of your national parliaments, you
can certainly make a contribution in helping to clarify what is at
stake with the Doha Development Agenda. You have an oversight role to
play during and after the negotiations. The transboundary nature of
poverty, environment, health and security issues and the
interdependency of economies often require international and regional
responses. Your work at the national level must clearly be
complemented at the international level. The trend of the
“globalization of public policy issues” will continue and cannot
be ignored. Public apprehension needs to be calmed by elected
officials and I believe you have a critical role to play.
Parliamentarians need to engage in the critical issues and be
perceived by the public to be doing so. If you do not, then I fear
others who do not have the same legitimacy will try to seize the
should do this in a more structured and formal way. This will evolve.
It was the WTO that approached the IPU to organize a meeting of
parliamentarians, This was healthy and useful. It should happen again.