> Roberto Azevêdo’s speeches


Madam Chair,
Distinguished Ministers,
Chairman of the General Council — Ambassador de Mateo,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Congratulations on the Nairobi Package.

Two years ago in Bali we did something that the WTO had never done before — we delivered major, multilaterally-negotiated outcomes.

It took 18 years. It took a lot of hard work. It took flexibility, creativity and political will.

This week, here in Nairobi, we saw those same qualities at work. And today, once again, we delivered.

The decision you have taken today on export competition is truly historic. It is the WTO's most significant outcome on agriculture.

The elimination of agricultural export subsidies is particularly significant.

WTO members — especially developing countries — have consistently demanded action on this issue due to the enormous distorting potential of these subsidies for domestic production and trade. In fact, this task has been outstanding since export subsidies were banned for industrial goods more than 50 years ago.

Today's decision tackles the issue once and for all. It removes the distortions that these subsidies cause in agriculture markets, thereby helping to level the playing field for the benefit of farmers and exporters in developing and least-developed countries.

This decision will also help to limit similar distorting effects associated with export credits and state trading enterprises.

And it will provide a better framework for international food aid — maintaining this essential lifeline, while ensuring that it doesn't displace domestic producers.

You have also taken important steps today to improve food security, through decisions on public stockholding and towards a special safeguard mechanism.

And you have agreed a package of specific decisions for LDCs.

This contains measures to enhance preferential rules of origin for LDCs and preferential treatment for LDC services providers.

And it contains a number of steps on cotton, such as eliminating export subsidies, and providing duty-free-quota-free market access for a range of LDC cotton products immediately.

In addition, this week we have approved the WTO membership of Liberia and Afghanistan. And I think we are all committed to supporting these two LDCs to boost their growth and development.

We also saw continued commitment to help build the trading capacity of LDCs through the excellent support shown at the EIF's pledging conference.

And, finally, a large group of members agreed on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement. Again, this is an historic breakthrough. It will eliminate tariffs on 10% of global trade — making it our first major tariff cutting deal since 1996.

So I want to congratulate you all.

This is the product of your hard work and commitment — and our shared belief in the art of the possible.

While we celebrate these outcomes, we have to be clear-sighted about the situation we are in today.

Success was achieved here despite members' persistent and fundamental divisions on our negotiating agenda — not because those divisions have been solved.

We have to face up to this problem. We have to address it.

The Ministerial Declaration acknowledges the differing opinions. And it instructs us to find ways to advance negotiations in Geneva.

Members must decide — the world must decide — about the future of this organization.

The world must decide what path this organization should take.

Inaction would itself be a decision. And I believe the price of inaction is too high.

It would harm the prospects of all those who rely on trade today — and it would disadvantage all those who would benefit from a reformed, modernized global trading system in the future — particularly in the poorest countries.  

So we have a very serious task ahead of us in 2016.

But today we mark this success.

I would like to pay sincere tribute once again to the Government and people of Kenya for hosting us this week. Your hospitality has been warm, and your dedication to the task in hand has been complete. We are truly in your debt. Thank you Kenya.

I pay tribute to President Kenyatta for his leadership, for gracing us with his presence this week, and for his continuous support.

I want to thank my wife and my family. They're not here with me, but they're in my heart always.

To the minister-facilitators, chairs, ambassador-facilitators and friends, I express my sincere thanks for your tremendous efforts, and for steering us to where we are today. 

I also extend my appreciation to all WTO members for their engagement.

And to the Secretariat for their hard work and dedication.

And, of course, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed. Your guidance, support and tireless commitment have been inspiration to us all.

So thank you, Amina. It gives me great pleasure to present you with this ceremonial gavel as a token of our thanks.

I'm delighted that we have given you some good reasons to use it.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We came here determined to deliver for all those we represent — and particularly for the one billion citizens of this continent.

At the outset I warned that we were not looking at a perfect outcome. And what we have delivered is not perfect. There are still so many vital issues which we must tackle.

But we have delivered a huge amount. We have shown, once again, what we can do when we work together.

The decisions you have taken in Nairobi this week will help to improve the lives and prospects of many people — around the world and here in Africa.

And it was tough. The process was not perfect, we know that.

But when we left Geneva, the international media had already written their headlines:

  • ‘WTO talks break down’
  • ‘Another failure at the WTO’

That's exactly how it was in Bali. And we saw it again this year.

Well, we're getting used to proving those catastrophic headlines wrong.

In the past, all too often, WTO negotiations had a habit of ending in failure

But, despite adversity — despite real challenges — we are creating a new habit at the WTO: success.

Congratulations to all of you.

Thank you very much.


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