Good morning everyone,
I would like to welcome you to the 21st Geneva Week organised especially for WTO non-resident Members and Observers. I would also like to welcome the representatives of regional economic organizations and members of other specialised bodies who are participating in this week's activities.
Since we last met in May, there have been a number of important developments relating to the work of the WTO and international trade in general.
Concerning the Doha Development Agenda, you will recall that at our March stocktaking we agreed that we would let our work and consultations be guided by a so-called cocktail approach, that is a combination of meetings in small groups, bilateral contacts, Negotiating Group meetings and my own consultations. We also agreed that all of these processes had to feed into the Negotiating Groups and the TNC [Trade Negotiations Committee]. The centrality and primacy of the multilateral process together with transparency and inclusiveness being the guiding principles.
Over the past few weeks the level of activity of these contact groups around Geneva has increased and some of the areas which had been lagging behind have received more attention. During the last meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee which took place on 19 October we went into the developments in each area of the negotiation.
Since then the G20 met in Seoul (Korea) and APEC Leaders and Ministers met in Yokohama (Japan). Both instances sent strong signals of political resolve to conclude the Doha Development Round. They recognised the 2011 window of opportunity to achieve this goal. They called for intensified engagement and for negotiations across the board to conclude the end game. They also committed to seeking domestic ratification once an outcome is reached. In short, they provided a clear signal that they expect the Doha Development Round to be a deliverable next year.
Discussions between leaders on this topic were to the point: how to supplement what is already on the table with new give and take in order to build a final package that they would take to their respective Parliaments.
The challenge is now to translate this political will into negotiations here in Geneva. Since June last year, Members have been testing flexibilities in various formats. This process must now intensify in order to “walk the talk”.
The crisis has accelerated the growth differential between developed and emerging economies, thus somewhat aggravating pre-existing macro-economic imbalances and monetary tensions.
In a world as interdependent as ours today, there is no “go it alone”, “beggar thy neighbour” solutions to these challenges. The way forward cannot be but multilateral, first understanding each other's domestic constraints and building a common diagnosis; and then entering into trade-offs for the common good. With the agreement to develop indicative guidelines composed of a range of indicators, the Seoul G20 has taken a much-needed first step in this direction.
The WTO offers a well-tested multilateral system of rules to address global trade issues. This needs to be complemented with multilateral progress in other areas such as the environment, macro-economic policies, exchange rate policies or social policies which are lagging behind. Let us not waste the chance that the DDA [Doha Development Agenda] offers to show that our multilateral vision remains the best option to harness globalisation and manage interdependence. Other options may be available, but they are certainly far worse.
As we look into the months to come we must ensure that constructive and substantive progress is combined with proper transparency and inclusiveness, which is of particular concern to you as non-residents. This is why I have stressed multiple times at the General Council and in other fora that all efforts among groups of Members must come back to the Negotiating Groups and the TNC.
Members have expressed their desire for the Negotiating Groups to intensify their work as part of this overall cocktail of activity and as part of the process towards arriving at new texts. Clearly, revised texts can only emerge from the Negotiating Group Chairs as a product of the multilateral process.
Throughout this week you will have the opportunity to be apprised of the situation in each of the Negotiating Groups and to get an idea of the processes which will be followed in each area so that we can bring the Doha negotiations to a successful closure.
Let me now move to the Aid for Trade initiative and the preparations underway for the Third Global Review in July 2011. You have already received the questionnaires and the call for case stories which were sent to your respective Trade and Finance Ministers in mid-October. These will be used for the Third Global Review on Aid for Trade scheduled for July next year and will help us answer the central question of “Is Aid for Trade working?” If it is working, we want to know how it is working and where. If it is not working, we want to know why and what must be done to make sure that it does.
At the recent G20 summit in Seoul, development occupied a central place in the summit's agenda with a commitment to put jobs at the heart of the recovery, providing decent work and ensuring accelerated growth in low-income countries. More concretely, the G20 endorsed the Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth and its Multi-Year Action Plan on Development. One of the core principles that guides the Seoul Development Consensus and Action Plan is that enduring and meaningful reduction in poverty cannot be achieved without inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth, and recognizes that the provision of ODA, as well as the mobilization of all other sources of financing, remain essential to development. All of these are welcome news for us in the WTO and for the Aid for Trade initiative.
As I just noted, the key question for next year's global Aid for Trade review is whether Aid for Trade is having the impact that we desire on the ground. Is it living up to its promise? This question has become more urgent as donors face budgetary pressures which have prompted extra scrutiny of public spending and are now conducting comprehensive evaluations of their aid expenditure.
My view has always been that we should consider this growing “accountability culture” as an opportunity. In order for Aid for Trade to maintain political support, we need to demonstrate clearly and convincingly that Aid for Trade is working on the ground. If the global crisis has made Aid for Trade imperative for developing countries, it has also made the need to show results much more essential in donor countries.
Let me conclude by urging you to use your time in Geneva this week to benefit from all the briefings and exchanges you will have with the Chairs of the Negotiating Groups, the Secretariat, WTO Members and regional economic organizations. I hope this week will be productive and informative for you.
Thank you for your attention.