150pxls.gif (76 bytes)

> Press releases
WTO news archives
Pascal Lamy's speeches

Opening remarks

Welcome to the 14th Geneva Week event which the WTO Secretariat organises for non-resident Members and Observers. I would also like to warmly welcome the representatives of regional economic organizations and other specialised bodies that are participating in this week's activity.

I am pleased to note that, as was the case last year, attendance is high with participation from 25 out of the 30 Members and Observers that do not have representation in Geneva. In total, we have 70 participants attending this Geneva Week. This good level of attendance continues to signify the importance attached to Geneva Week events. They not only provide an opportunity for you to be kept abreast of developments in the WTO and the DDA, but also for us to be kept informed of your needs, priorities and concerns.

I understand the particular challenges faced by Non Residents and I would like to reassure you that the WTO will continue to be responsive to your special needs. For example, many of you have expressed keen interest in participating in the meetings of the General Council. I am, therefore, pleased that we have been able to organise this Geneva Week around a meeting of the General Council on Wednesday.

In addition to your active participation in the General Council and the various briefings, we look forward to learning more about your priorities, and needs in terms of technical assistance. It would be useful for us to know whether the quality and type of assistance you receive from us is adequate and what else we could do to help you better participate in the work of the WTO. Your input will help us draw up the next Technical Assistance Plan for WTO Members and Observers. You will have a chance to make your views heard this Friday afternoon during a briefing on the 2007 TA plan.

Allow me to say a few words on the current state of play in the DDA negotiations. You will be receiving detailed briefings on all areas from the chairs of the negotiating groups throughout this week. Since the last Geneva Week in November last year, I am pleased to report that at the General Council meeting of February 2007, I announced the return to full negotiating mode across the board.

Since then, the level of activity has increased and work has restarted in the negotiating groups with regular meetings and consultations taking place. At the political level, there is continued commitment to the successful conclusion of the round. As I mentioned in the informal TNC meeting held just over two weeks ago, various meetings have taken place at ministerial level and I have participated in many of them including the meetings of the G33, the Cairns Group, Caricom as well as the World Bank and IMF spring meetings in Washington. In addition, I have continued my contacts with a wide range of Members, meeting with permanent representatives and the negotiating groups chairs here in Geneva, as well as consulting with governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean and North America. In my consultations, I have continued to stress that there is no substitute for a genuine multilateral negotiation process here in Geneva and that time is not on our side.

In all areas of the negotiations, the chairs are working towards revised papers which can become the basis for agreement. As a matter of fact, today members will begin consideration of the paper that has been prepared by the chair of the Agriculture negotiating group aimed at identifying the “centre of gravity” of the negotiations. This paper only covers a first set of issues in agriculture and will be followed by a second instalment very soon. Ambassador Falconer's paper is the first in a series of draft papers that will be issued by chairs of the different negotiating bodies.

The reality is that we now need to see serious substantive engagement by all WTO Members including you, the non residents. It is important that Members support the chairs by providing constructive inputs and by showing a willingness to negotiate and to be flexible.

But there is more to the round than just Agriculture. Concluding the Round means concluding it in line with the full Doha mandate, the July 2004 Decision and the Hong Kong Declaration. Progress is equally needed in all of the other topics including services, trade facilitation, rules — including fisheries subsidies which impact many of you — development issues, TRIPS and environment.

A breakthrough in the negotiations in the next few weeks would send a much needed message of confidence, that WTO Members remain committed to open markets and to multilateral rules. This will help reinforce the foundations of the global economy. I am aware that this represents a huge task but I remain convinced that it is doable, especially given the substantial amount of work that has already been accomplished and the existing political engagement. However, I am of the opinion that the challenge now is more political than technical. The challenge is about leadership, about compromise, about countries recognising their common interest in success and the collective costs of failure. During the briefings by the various chairs of negotiating groups, I urge you all to actively participate and provide your inputs to the process. Furthermore, I encourage you to also consult with other Members and with your regional groupings.

In addition to the negotiations, work on a number of key issues has continued and I would like to share with you the progress that has been made so far in some important areas, starting with Aid for Trade, an area of great importance to you all.

Since the last Geneva Week in November last year, work has been ongoing to operationalise Aid for Trade. I have continued my consultations with regional development banks, development agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors. The WTO will provide the platform for monitoring and regularly reviewing whether Aid for Trade is being adequately funded and delivering the expected results.

This monitoring and evaluation will be undertaken on three levels namely; a global review of Aid for Trade flows; evaluations of national, regional and multilateral donors' Aid for trade activities; and country and region based monitoring and evaluation. The first periodic review with the OECD-DAC took place in the Committee on Trade and Development on Aid on 2 April 2007. There was wide support among Members for the three-tiered approach to monitoring and for regional reviews in particular. Many Members are also now increasingly focused on identifying Aid for Trade priorities and learning about mechanisms to access available funding. On 27 April, a meeting with representatives of international financial institutions and regional development banks took place. The main objective of this meeting was to examine how to improve developing countries' access to secure and affordable sources of trade finance.

I am also happy to note that preparations for the three regional Aid for Trade reviews are advancing well. The first review is scheduled to take place in Lima, Peru on 5-7 September for the Latin America/Caribbean region, the second review will take place in Manila, Philippines on 19-20 September for the Asian region and the third review will take place on 27-28 September in Tanzania for the Africa region. In all these three regional reviews, the respective regional development banks are taking the lead in coordinating the preparations. All this will lead to the monitoring and evaluation event which will be hosted here on 20-21 November.

I urge you to continue to follow closely this work and to participate as actively as you can to ensure that the ongoing consultations also benefit from your inputs. Valentine Rugwabiza and her small but very efficient team are the contact point for you on this during the week.

A second area where there has been significant progress is the Enhanced Integrated Framework for LDCs. I am pleased to report to you that last week, the IF governing bodies adopted the recommendations of the Transition Team which had been established to operationalise the recommendations for an Enhanced IF.

I would also encourage those of you who are negotiating accession to the WTO to use your stay here to take contact with members to address issues which remain open. The staff in the Secretariat, Alejandro Jara and myself are at your disposal for any assistance we could provide.

In conclusion, let me say again how pleased I am that all of you are here this week. You are here at what may be a defining moment for the success of the Doha negotiations, which would result in a more equitable, more development friendly set of rules for international trade.

I urge you to use your time in Geneva to benefit from all the briefings and exchanges you will have with the Chairs of the negotiating groups, the Secretariat and the WTO Members. I wish you all a very fruitful 14th Geneva Week.

Thank you.

Problems viewing this page?
Please contact webmaster@wto.org giving details of the operating system and web browser you are using.

150pxls.gif (76 bytes)