WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

Monday 11 March 2002

WTO pledging conference for the Doha Development Agenda global trust fund (DDAGTF)

Opening remarks by Director-General Mike Moore

I would like to welcome you all to this Pledging Conference for the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund (DDAGTF). Your presence here today is an important indication of the level of commitment of the international community to the mandates established in the Doha Ministerial Conference in particular for technical cooperation and capacity building.

This Pledging Conference has been convened in accordance with the decision by the WTO General Council, in December 2001, to create a Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund, so as to establish a sound and predictable basis for funding WTO Trade-Related Technical Assistance (TRTA). In that decision, the General Council set a target amount of core funding totalling CHF 15 million.

However, the importance of this Pledging Conference goes far beyond raising CHF 15 million, as important as that goal is. There are several other reasons. First, the DDA established an extensive and unprecedented agenda for trade and development, including for TRTA, which far exceeds the delivery capacity for any one organization. This is why, I considered that this Pledging Conference, so soon after the Doha Ministerial Conference, presented the international community (and not just the WTO) with a unique opportunity to initiate an urgent and necessary policy dialogue on several issues at the core of technical cooperation and capacity building. These issues include the appropriate overall global architecture for TRTA, the scope of the TRTA, reconciling short-term and long-term needs and, matching expectation with reality. Central to current discussions underway on this subject is the urgent necessity for coordination and coherence amongst agencies and between agencies and the bilateral donor community.

Second, this conference is key to the on-going process of confidence-building amongst WTO Members that is necessary for the successful conduct of the new trade negotiations that have been initiated.

Third, I believe this conference today is part of the overall process of reinforcing and building on the trade and development consensus that was established at Doha. It is essential for enhancing the meaningful integration of developing and least developed countries into the multilateral trading system and the global economy. I am confident that it will contribute to the maintenance of the post-Doha momentum that has been evident amongst WTO membership. We need to maintain this momentum from now until the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in Mexico and then to the conclusion of the Doha Development Round, in time. Ministers were clear – success in our technical cooperation and capacity building efforts will be critical to the successful conclusion of the Mexico Ministerial. A condition of further progress is the capacity of capacity-restrained Members, to consider, participate, engage and conclude any agreements.

It is for these reasons, as you will see in the circulated programme, that we have proposed several of these issues to Members to address, in order that we can begin the process of a high level dialogue on technical cooperation and capacity building and in designing more optimal arrangements and solutions for enhancing the delivery of the TRTA to beneficiary countries.

Amongst the core agencies, I believe that we have begun the process of addressing the challenges of coherence and coordination. I am pleased to report to you that two weeks ago, in Washington, the Integrated Framework Heads of Agency held a particularly successful meeting, which was kindly hosted by Jim Wolfensohn. As Chairman of that Group, I would like to pay tribute to my colleague Heads of Agency and representatives of the IMF, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, and the World Bank. A Joint Communiqué was adopted, which lays out a clear and overarching vision and road map not only for the effective implementation of the Integrated Framework and its extension to all the LDCs, on the basis of the agreed criteria, but also how agencies, in partnership with bilateral donors should proceed to support developing countries and LDCs in implementing the DDA and their effective participation in the new trade negotiations. I can also report to you that, at our meeting, each agency head and representative, took the floor, to clearly state how their organizations, based on their expertise and competence, would support the new round of trade negotiations and the Doha Development Agenda. Doha was a wakeup call not just for the WTO, but for the international community as a whole that it cannot be business as usual in the treatment of trade and development issues. It has provided the impetus to improved coherence and coordination at all levels. The Joint Communiqué adopted by Agency Heads is before you.

But enhanced coordination and improved coherence involves more than agencies. It also involves the trade and development communities, and the trade and finance communities of the membership. Coherent and consistent messages will be necessary.

Bill Clinton in his first presidential campaign had a poster to remind his staff of the key issue: “It's the economy stupid”. In the WTO, and with our partners, we must remind ourselves “It's the Doha Development Agenda — stupid”. But we need to be clear about the limits of what the WTO can do and cannot do with regard to the Doha Development Agenda. It's not for us to tell countries and companies to make T-shirts or shoes, build airports or seaports. It's true over 10% of our budget goes to the International Trade Centre which exists to help businesses navigate through agreements and rules to get products to markets, and they do an excellent job. That's their core business. Other organizations can help with physical infrastructure; that's their core business. We can cooperate as we do in the Integrated Framework with other agencies, but we must stick to our core business, which is the Doha Development Agenda, and the benefits it will deliver to people everywhere.

It is appropriate that I seize this opportunity to describe the architecture that the WTO conceives for addressing the full scope of the Doha Development Agenda in particular the mandates for technical cooperation and capacity building. There are six levels to this architecture.

First, we will negotiate and design effective inter-agency groups, focused on issues and activities, for the coordinated delivery of TRTA. In this regard, we have accomplished much with UNCTAD, in the last few weeks in the area of competition policy and investment. Negotiations are well underway with other agencies to establish similar arrangements on trade facilitation, transparency in government procurement, and the more traditional implementation issues. Our partnership with the Food and Agricultural Organization, the Codex Alimentarius and standards activities is contributing to the effective participation of developing countries and LDCs in standard-setting bodies. Currently, we are exploring a joint initiative with the World Bank to enhance the capacity of developing countries and LDCs to meet international SPS standards. We have a solid and reliable partnership with the World Customs Organization on Customs Valuation on which we will continue to build. UNIDO will be of assistance together with the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and Trade Facilitation matters. The WTO's partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC) is a model of cooperation not only in policy and institutional capacity building on the various agreements, but also in supporting the activities of ITC in developing export strategies for trade support, promotion and diversification. These examples are simply illustrative. They are the Integrated Framework writ small.

Second, the Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Assistance to the LDCs is an important pillar in the overall architecture. I have just referred to the significance of the last meeting of Heads of Agency. At the meeting, we confirmed the extension of the benefits of the IF to 11 LDCs, and we agreed to act swiftly to extend the benefits of the Integrated Framework to as many LDCs, as possible, before the conclusion of the Doha Trade Round, on the basis of the agreed criteria. Heads of Agency instructed the representatives of the UNDP and the World Bank to consult with donors and national authorities at the country level with a view to designating a lead donor, and to report to the Integrated Framework Steering Committee. I can confirm that Heads of Agency are committed to practical and effective follow-up with donors to implement the recommended priority TA projects in the LDCs. We agreed to meet again to review the effective implementation of our commitments. However, the unique aspect of the last meeting of Agency Heads was the unanimous undertaking to support developing and least-developed countries in the new round of trade negotiations and the negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda, on the basis of complementary expertise of the agencies.

Third, the creation of a Doha/Trade-Related Technical Assistance Database is key to our efforts. This WTO initiative has received strong endorsement from the IF Heads of Agency in their communiqué. In this regard, I would like to express gratitude to Donald Johnston, Secretary-General of the OECD. As agreed, the OECD will work with the WTO, together with all key agency and country providers of TRTA to create and manage this database. This database will be established on the basis of country files. Agencies and country providers of TRTA will report into agreed, comparable TRTA categories. The purpose of the database will be to improve coherence, maximise available resources, minimize duplication. It will also act as a transparency mechanism in the exchange and sharing of information, holding us all accountable. I believe that this database will invariably assist agencies and countries in measuring progress in the implementation of the Doha mandates.

Fourth, effective coordinated delivery of TRTA by the WTO and bilateral donors in the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD is essential. We have taken the first step on this road. In January, the first meeting of agencies and the DAC/OECD took place. It was an important meeting that contributed to the implementation of the DDA. The meeting was co-chaired by the Chairman of the DAC/OECD and the WTO. Several messages originated from that meeting, requiring the action of the trade and development communities. I am pleased to note that the meeting agreed to reconvene, just ahead of the WTO General Council, in December, where the Director-General will report on the adequacy and implementation of the commitments on technical cooperation and capacity building in the Declaration. I would urge that they provide concrete inputs on their achievement from the joint meetings to the report of the WTO Director-General to the December meeting of the General Council.

Fifth, building a strategic partnership with the Regional Banks, Institutions and Commissions is a fundamental requirement for the effective implementation of the Doha mandates. Regional institutions know the regions. There are several potential areas of contributions, which include grant funding for TRTA, and concessional project-based funding for TRTA. Two weeks ago, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mr. Enriqué Iglesias, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). I believe that we (and other regions) can emulate the good practices of the IDB in bringing together the trade and finance communities, in reflecting trade priority areas of action in competitiveness studies, and in providing not only grant support, but soft loans to finance TRTA. I believe that other regional development banks, pulling in the same direction, can make fundamentally significant contributions to support the implementation of the Doha Mandates. To pursue this aspect of our overall plan, I held an initial meeting, in Washington, two weeks ago, with representatives of the regional development banks. It was agreed with those present, that I would convene a meeting of regional development banks, at the WTO, here in Geneva, in the month of April, with the participation of the World Bank. I can report to Members that arrangements are effectively underway for this meeting with regional development banks. I will be further reporting on this to the WTO membership.

The final pillar of our overall conception of delivering on the mandates is the WTO Secretariat-wide Annual TA Plan, which, in coordination with some agencies, responds to the short term TRTA needs of the beneficiary members. I am pleased to report to you that the WTO Committee on Trade and Development (COMTD) agreed on Wednesday, last week, that the Secretariat should proceed with the implementation of the Plan. This Plan is before you in document WT/COMTD/W/95/Rev.2. Agreement to proceed with this plan was an important accomplishment by Members. It demonstrated the establishment of consensus on such issues as structure and the TRTA categories. The Plan is flexible and will be work in progress, but it is a signficant step forward in delivering on the Doha mandates. It contains a total of 514 activities. Implementation has effectively begun, and will now be accelerated because of the decision of the COMTD.

Can I share the major concern I have and that is quality control evaluation and audit procedures for the use of your resources.

As you know, we established a Technical Cooperation Audit Unit. We now have a transparent, competitive system which allocates resources through the Technical Assistance Management Committee. All this is good progress that needs frequent updating and renewal. I believe we have the right people and the correct structure in place. A note will be going out to all staff and to Missions soon on a fresh evaluation methodology. Our new monitoring and evaluation will ensure that the Technical Cooperation Audit Unit prepare an annual report on Technical Assistance evaluation and submit it to the Committee on Trade and Development. I am confident that the systematic application of the evaluation methodology will contribute to improved performance-management in the field of technical cooperation.

All this makes us better. We should submit ourselves to frequent evaluation through you and be accountable to you. This is healthy. We should rejoice and celebrate when colleagues find ways of improving our outputs. Criticism is never personal; we cannot do better without it. However, we too need your cooperation. Staff tell me of enthusiastic, impressive young people who graduate from our training programmes or attend seminars and follow-up on ideas with staff. This is very rewarding for our staff. But staff are disappointed when they so often lose track of individuals or never see them again. They are promoted to other departments or go to other jobs. They are not lost completely, but I hope you can see my point.

If we are to equip Ministers with the back-up staff and resources many demanded in Doha, then we need to ensure as much as possible teams stay together. This is not a conditionality; we can and will never insist. But we will continue to make this point to Members.

I'm saying now, and it's starting to happen, that for those who felt Doha was difficult to manage, it's not too soon now to assemble a team for Mexico. This is the responsibility of Ministers of Members. We can do a better, consistent and worthwhile job if this were to happen in most places by the last quarter of this year.

This is, of course, the beauty of our country files. We will and you will know what your neighbour has got and this should drive things forward.

However, it is necessary to underscore over and again that the Secretariat Plan is one out of 6 pillars. It will not respond to the totality of the needs of beneficiary countries. The scope of TRTA is wide, and the needs are virtually endless. This is why we must match expectations with reality and focus on the specific remit of the Doha mandates. Furthermore, I would like to draw attention to the necessity for beneficiary countries to ensure that their trade-related technical assistance requirements, through systematic domestic coordination, are firmly reflected in their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) or their development plans. PRSPs are the basis for policy lending by the Bank and the Fund. These trade priority areas of action also need to be reflected in the UN Common Country Assessments (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The essential point is that TRTA needs and requirements are not only to be lodged in WTO Annual Plans. Our plans will be able to account and take care of the short term needs, but more is needed, and this is why domestic coherence and coordination within beneficiary countries are essential. I can confirm to beneficiary countries that in making this point that the WTO will continue to champion with other agencies and with bilateral donors the necessity to reflect the trade in development plans and PRSPs. We will do so because we have trade competence as a trade organization.

This is how we conceive that the international community can work together to implement the Doha mandates, which I believe is a global mandate both to countries as well as to agencies.

I'm appreciative of the fact that you have already given us the resources for double our training through the Training Institute. They are busy in this important work and preparing to do more in distance education and follow-up. Creative and strategic partnerships are planned in this area in the near future. The contributions you announced today, and the support you give to us, will be used wisely and carefully. We have put in place the systems to ensure monitoring, quality, evaluation and accountability to you.

This is a full day conference. The programme has been circulated, together with a note for participants and supporting relevant documentation. Management of time will be critical.

I now formally open this Pledging Conference. The first message to our conference will be a pre-recorded message from Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez, Secretary of the Economy of Mexico, who is the host Minister for the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference, to be held in Mexico.