my farewell speech to the New Zealand Parliament, in 1999,
I described my new position at the WTO as continuing a life-long
career in public service. I said I would travel to Geneva and give
this job everything I have got. I have done that.
travelled here with an agenda. Yes, I was biased. I wanted to see a
new round launched with development issues at the centre. I wanted to
enlarge our membership. I wanted to re-position the WTO and advance
my term as Director-General of the World Trade Organization nears its
conclusion, as I clear my desk and take down the paintings of
beautiful New Zealand landscapes from my office wall, I want to tell
you that every day that I have been able to serve this institution has
been a great personal honour and every day has been a privilege.
is not my intention here to rehearse the history of our time together.
That will be the subject of my next book which, when completed, will
be available in all good bookstores. I come out of it pretty well
but I have instructed the publisher not to put your names in the index
so you will have to buy the book.
years on, I believe we are entitled to look back on a record of very
solid achievement. This will also help remind us how much there is
still to do and why the work is so important and so urgent.
I arrived in Geneva in September 1999, the WTO was at a
crossroads. Never before had the multilateral trading system enjoyed
such prominence in international life; yet never before had it been so
fiercely attacked. Never before had the fundamental principles of the
system — consensus, non-discrimination, the rule of law — been so
right and so necessary; yet never before had it been so hard to see
them applied in practice. Never before had open trade within a
rules-based system done so much to lift living standards and increase
opportunity; yet never before had the persistence of poverty and
exclusion been so glaring.
Seattle, the intersection of these interests became the site of a
major pile-up, a collision, a clash of priorities and imperatives.
Much has been written about Seattle. Some of it is even true.
Ministerial Conferences had failed before, but never in such
spectacular fashion. In truth, we did not fail because of the
protestors or because of gaps in our processes, although neither
helped. We failed on substance and because Members were too far apart
on key issues.
cost us two years and, for some at least, called into question the
very legitimacy and survival of the multilateral trading system.
However, through continued faith in the core principles and objectives
of this institution, as well as hard work by Ambassadors, Ministers,
officials and the Secretariat, we are very much back in business.
am proud of what we have achieved together in these last three years.
Confidence in the system is restored after the setback of Seattle. We
have maintained our core focus on trade liberalization but also placed
development issues and the interests of our poorer Members rightfully
at the centre of our work. We are doing more than ever before to
assist poorer and smaller Members to integrate into the trading system
and participate successfully in WTO processes. I believe also
that our outstanding success in launching a new round of trade
negotiations in Doha last year has opened up enormous possibilities to
advance the conditions of people throughout the world.
can take pride as well in the momentum we have maintained since Doha.
Our negotiating structures are in place and substantive work is well
underway. Members have also acted decisively by approving an increased
budget for 2002 and pledging 30 million Swiss Francs to a
new Global Trust Fund for technical assistance. It is now up to
negotiators to work with commitment and flexibility to realise the
benefits offered by the multilateral trading system.
work is urgent. It is urgent because there are just 13 months
until the 5th Ministerial Conference in Cancun. It is urgent because
Ministers have set a deadline of January 2005 for completing the
round (this is not a three-year round because we have already spent
four years on it). The Doha Development Agenda is urgent too because
more than half of the world's population continue to live on less than
$2 dollars a day and a successful conclusion to the round can
help lift billions of people out of poverty. This Agenda is about
them. Our greatest motivation is the people we serve.
is a source of great personal satisfaction that in the last three
years we have been able to welcome more than a quarter of the world's
population into the World Trade Organization – from Estonia, Jordan,
Georgia, Albania, Oman, Croatia, Lithuania, Moldova, China and Chinese
Taipei. I pay tribute to those hard working negotiators and
Secretariat staff who were able to conclude these accession processes.
Looking at the long list of countries still seeking to join the WTO,
I am profoundly confident in the long-term prospects of this
institution. In the immediate term, Armenia, Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia and Vanuatu should join our membership this year. If we
get Russia in by the time of the 5th Ministerial Conference next
year, that will be a great victory. If Russia is not in by the time of
the 6th Ministerial in 2005, that will be a great defeat.
can all take pride in changes made to the way the WTO operates. Let us
reflect briefly on some of these changes.
we are now much more inclusive in our processes. It used to be
difficult for smaller and poorer Members to attend meetings in Geneva
and follow our processes. Now, we are bringing these representatives
here ourselves and scheduling training activities so they can also be
present for key meetings of our General Council and Trade Negotiations
Committee. We have also greatly expanded our technical assistance and
training activities, both in Geneva and in capitals, and we are
utilising new technologies such as the internet and distance-learning
we are more transparent and accountable in the way we do things and in
the way we take decisions. This shows in all areas of our work — in
technical assistance where we have new systems for auditing and
evaluation; in Councils and Committees where we now declassify
documents with much greater urgency; and on our website where
information on WTO activities flows freely to delegations and the
we are cooperating with international and regional agencies more
closely than ever before. Also, the growing role of our institution in
the management of the world economy continues to be recognised through
invitations to participate in various UN Conferences, summits of the
G8 and many other ministerial-level meetings. It has been an honour to
work closely with great international public servants like Kofi Annan,
Jim Wolfensohn and Horst Kohler. I believe we have made real progress
in our efforts to ensure coherence in the work of our respective
institutions. I am pleased too at the progress that has been made in
re-energising the Integrated Framework and JITAP and in expanding our
dialogue with regional and developmental institutions.
I believe we have made real progress in our efforts to enhance the
WTO's image and engage civil society. We are reaching out to NGOs
through regular seminars and symposia. We have developed important new
links with parliamentarians and policymakers. We are also seeking to
encourage a greater level of engagement from business leaders, trade
unions and other sectors of civil society.
the Secretariat has re-positioned itself so we are better able to
assist Members in the work programme. We have consolidated our
internal structures and refocused our priorities clearly to reflect
the Doha Development Agenda.
concerning the Secretariat, we have continued efforts to achieve the
broadest possible diversification of the Secretariat consistent with
the highest standards of competence, efficiency and integrity. In just
10 years, the number of women in the Secretariat occupying
professional posts has more than doubled; the number of developing
countries represented in the Secretariat has increased by over 40
percent. As well, in just the last three years we have seen very
encouraging movement in the overall number of nationalities
represented in the Secretariat, our re-energised internship programme
is now taking almost twice as many young people from developing
countries as three years ago.
Supachai Panitchpakdi takes office at the WTO on 1 September.
Transition arrangements are well in hand and he has been receiving all
the papers for several months. I am in regular contact with him and
will do all I can to support him and the WTO.
take this opportunity to thank you all for the support, cooperation
and friendship I have received during my time here. I thank you too
for your wisdom, leadership, compassion and commitment. You are
outstanding representatives of your peoples. I pay tribute to you,
your Ministers, and your Governments.
should like to pay tribute also to the Chairman of the General
Council, the previous Chairmen, and the other fine diplomats who have
presided over our various committees and working groups.
is a moment too to pay tribute to the Directors-General who have gone
before me, particularly Arthur Dunkel, Peter Sutherland and
Renato Ruggiero. I shall never forget the advice and support I
received from these three great public servants. In the more difficult
moments of my tenure, their phone-calls and words of encouragement
always helped to lift my spirits.
you and I have been well served by the WTO Secretariat. They have
worked hard over these last three years, with commitment and
dedication. They are professional. They are objective. I owe a great
debt to my deputies. I should also like to acknowledge and thank all
other members of staff – my own office, Directors, divisional staff,
conference officers, translators, guards, cleaners, drivers, everyone.
You are all part of the team. You have all done a fine job.
special word of thanks to the interpreters. One Ambassador recently
expressed regret that I was leaving, saying she was just beginning to
understand my English. “Exactly the reason I should go”, I
replied. “And don't worry, no one in New Zealand understood me
either”. Thank you to the interpreters who had to struggle with a
fourth official language – Enzed.
know that I have sometimes offended people and I offer apologies.
I have made some mistakes. But never out of malice. Mostly, my
mistakes were borne of enthusiasm to get the job done, complete our
agenda, serve the public. George Bernard Shaw said reasonable people
do not make change, thus all human progress is based on the
unreasonable person. So, I have sometimes been unreasonable.
me end by quoting a great English statesman. Asked what qualities were
required of a politician — and I add a Director-General, Churchill
replied, 'The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow,
next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability
afterwards to explain why it didn't happen'. My book will be published
in due course. It will show how things did happen here. And it will
show how you and I, together, made them happen.
will continue to serve the public. I can think of no greater vocation.
I may even join an NGO or march with the protesters to the gates of
this very institution. You will know me immediately. My banner will
say ‘Justice Now, Finish the Round’.