Dr. Supachai says US must lead in Doha talksback to top
WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, in a
speech to the National
Press Club in Washington on 26 February, warned that the alternative
to the Doha Round is “a fragmented world, with greater conflict and
uncertainty”. He stressed that US leadership is “indispensable” to the
world trading system and the success of the negotiations.
The Director-General said that while “bilateral and regional deals can
sometimes be a complement to the multilateral system, but they can
never be a substitute.” He said that “by treating some countries
preferentially, bilateral and regional deals exclude others —
fragmenting global trade and distorting the world economy.”
“It would be a tragic mistake if the Doha Round, which offers the
world a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eliminate trade
distortions, to strengthen trade rules, and open markets across the
world, were allowed to founder”, he said.
On 17 January, in an
address in Dhaka, Bangladesh to the International Chamber of
Commerce at the International Business Conference on Global Economic
Governance and Challenges of Multilateralism, he urged the business
community to give active support to the Doha Development Agenda.
He emphasized that “the support of the business community has been
central to the huge successes of the multilateral trading system over
the past half century.”
The Director-General reminded businessmen that “it is you who benefit
from the predictability and stability of the rules-based multilateral
trading system, backed up by a dispute settlement system with teeth,
and add to that the benefits of new markets, sales of new products,
intellectual property protection and lower costs for user industries.”
General Council agrees on slate of 2004 chairs of WTO bodiesback to top
The General Council, on 11 February 2004, noted the consensus on the
slate of names of
chairpersons for WTO bodies and elected by acclamation Amb. Shotaro
Oshima of Japan as its new Chairman.
Director-General Supachai and many delegations paid tribute to the
outgoing Chairman, Amb. Carlos Pérez del Castillo of Uruguay for his
leadership, especially during the preparations for the Cancun
The General Council agreed to give Cambodia another six months to ratify
its membership agreement and join the WTO. The
decision extends the deadline from 31 March to 30 September 2004.
It granted Iraq's
request for observer status in the WTO. The
head of the Iraqi delegation, Mr. Ahmad Al-Mukhar, said “after decades
of isolation, Iraq is beginning to rejoin the international community
and your decision today sends a positive signal to the people of Iraq
that they are welcomed back and that the world really cares about their
The General Council agreed to revert to Iran's request for accession at
its next meeting. The United States said it continued to have this
matter under review. Tanzania, on behalf of the informal group of
developing countries, expressed the hope that the US would complete its
review soon and be able to provide a positive response at the next
At the request of the United States, the General Council considered the
matter of the date of the Sixth Session of the Ministerial Conference.
The US said that scheduling this meeting at the end of 2004 would give
further impulse to members' effort6s to move the trade negotiations
forward. Following statements by a number of delegations, the Chairman
said that he was certain his successor would hold consultations on this
matter. The General Council agreed to revert to this issue at a future
The General Council adopted a draft
decision submitted by the
Council for Trade in Goods on the “Introduction of Harmonized System
2002 Changes into WTO Schedules of Tariff Concessions”.
The following matters were raised under “Other Business“:
Maldives called on the WTO and its trading partners to ease its upcoming
transition from a least-developed to a developing country. Many members,
including LDCs, congratulated Maldives' economic achievement.
The Director-General said that the Secretariat was preparing a report on
the subject of availability of adequate and affordable trade financing
for developing countries during periods of financial crises.
The Chairman informed delegations that the Working Party of the
Accession of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia would be renamed the
“Working Party on the Accession of Serbia and Montenegro”.
DSB adopts reports on softwood lumber disputeback to top
The Dispute Settlement Body, on
adopted the Appellate Body and panel reports on Canada's complaint
concerning the United States' final countervailing duty determination
on certain softwood lumber from Canada.
On 26 January
following the US' objection to the level of sanctions, the DSB
referred to arbitration requests for suspension of concessions to the
United States from eight countries in the case “United States —
Continued dumping and subsidy offset act of 2000” — also known as the
“Byrd Amendment” case.
The DSB, on 23
January, established two panels to examine Korea's separate
complaints against the United States and the European Communities
concerning, respectively, countervailing duty investigation and
countervailing measures on Korean semiconductors.
On 9 January, it
established a panel to examine the Dominican Republic's cigarette
importation and internal sale measures. It also adopted the panel and
Appellate Body reports on the United States' sunset review of
anti-dumping duties on carbon steel products from Japan.
The following reports and decisions were issued by the WTO:
An arbitrator, in a
decision issued by the WTO on 24
February, concluded that the European Communities may suspend trade
obligations against the United States, subject to certain specified
limits, after the failure of the latter to bring its Anti-Dumping Act
of 1916 into conformity with the WTO.
The WTO Appellate Body, on 19 January, issued its
report on the case “United States — Final Countervailing Duty
Determination with Respect to Certain Softwood Lumber from Canada”. It
upheld the panel's finding that the US did not violate trade rules in
determining that a financial contribution was being provided to Canadian softwood
lumber producers but did not agree with the panel's interpretation of
“benefit” under the Subsidies Agreement.
WTO members, in concluding their trade policy review of The Gambia on 6
February , noted that economic liberalization has contributed to The
Gambia's high growth rate since the late 1990s. They encouraged the
country to consolidate reforms aimed at promoting investment and
Members have praised the open US economy’s role as an engine of world
growth and the US leadership in WTO work. But in the latest review of US
trade policy on 14 and 16 January, they also expressed concern about the
country’s twin deficits, its uneven record of compliance with WTO
rulings, and some aspects of its involvement in regional trade
Trade and development Dr. Supachai says Saudi accession an “imminent reality”back to top
Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, in a
speech “The Future of
the WTO and its Role in Global Economic Growth”
at the Jeddah Economic Forum on 19 January, said that there is a
“realistic chance” that Saudi Arabia will accede to the WTO before the
end of this year.
Meanwhile, on 18 February, the Committee on Trade and Development
elected Amb. C. Trevor Clarke of Barbados as its new Chairperson for
meetings in regular and Dedicated Sessions (on small economies) and Amb.
Ian M. de Jong of the Netherlands as Chairman of the Sub-Committee on
The Committee adopted the regional trade policy courses of the 2004
Technical Assistance Plan. It considered notifications by Iceland and
Australia on improved market access for LDC exports.
It discussed the issue of declining commodity prices and Kenya said it
would make a new submission on this matter at the next meeting.
The EC informed the Committee of a database service called “Expanding
Exports Helpdesk” that it had created to advice developing
countries exporting to the EC.
On 12 January, government officials from 56 countries attended on the
joint opening session
of the 27th and 28th WTO Trade Policy Courses. Dr. Kipkorir Aly Rana,
Deputy Director-General of the WTO chaired the brief opening ceremony.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, on 19 January, made a
contribution of 75,000
euros (CHF 115,000) to the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund.
WTO hosts its annual public symposium: “Multilateralism at a crossroads”
The WTO will host its
symposium from 25 to 27 May. Participants from governments,
parliaments, civil society, the business sector, academia and the media
are invited to debate the stakes and challenges ahead in the most
crucial and final phase of the Doha Round of negotiations.