Dr. Supachai welcomes “encouraging political signals” for Doha progress  back to top

Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, at the General Council meeting (Word document, 2 pages, 21KB) on 17-18 May, urged trade negotiators “to show the world that Geneva is capable of delivering significant results”. He said that “we have a window of opportunity but it is a small one and closing rapidly”.

In his report as Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee, Dr. Supachai said that since the April TNC meeting, a number of developments have demonstrated “a new level of political will to make progress” in the negotiations. These include “the outcome of the LDC Ministers' meeting in Senegal...the initiatives by Commissioners Pascal Lamy and Franz Fischler set out in their letter to all Ministers..and most recently, the discussions that have taken place in the context of the OECD Ministerial meeting in Paris”.

The Chairman of the General Council, Ambassador Shotaro Oshima (Japan), said he “shared very much the Director-General's cautious optimism that we seem to be making the kind of progress in key areas tha allows us to hope for agreements at a framework level by July”.

The Acting Managing-Director of the IMF, Ms. Anne Krueger, made a presentation on the IMF's new initiative for developing countries: the Trade Integration Mechanism. She stressed that “for the vast majority of countries, the benefits of a Doha agreement would be, as they would be for the global economy as a whole, overwhelmingly positive and even in the short-term”. Ms. Krueger said that the Mechanism is like an “insurance policy” to provide reassurance to governments.

Dr. Supachai welcomed the IMF's intiative as “a welcome contribution to the Doha Round, in particular to attaining ambitious market access results” He said the Mechanism “can help reassure low income developing countries that they will receive assistance from the international community to help them deal with adjustment difficulties they encounter from the loss of trade preferences which will result from the lowering of MFN tariffs at the end of the Doha Round”.

> Opening and closing remarks by the Director-General and General Council Chairman (Word format 6 pages; 68 KB)
> Statement by the Director-General
> Statement by the IMF

Dr. Supachai, in a speech during the opening of the Conference of the African Union Ministers of Trade on 27 May in Kigali, Rwanda, said that the meeting will be “pivotal” in determining whether the trade negotiations “will take a substantial step forward by the end of July”. He stressed that “no one questions” that development concerns must be reflected in the July package.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, in his speech, said that “in Africa today, we recognise that trade and investment, and not aid, are pillars of development. We are all turning to trade as the engine for our growth and development after many decades of donor-aided development that failed to make an impact on our economies, mainly because it was not aimed at building a basis for market-driven economic growth anyway”.

During the Third LDC Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Dakar, Senegal on 4 May, Director-General Supachai in his address stressed that “now is the time for all WTO members to show realism, flexibility and a determination to make progress” in the negotiations. He warned that “a loss of momentum will have a direct impact on the areas in which LDCs have a key interest”.


WTO Agreement extended to the 10 new member States of the European Union
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The WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement was extended on 1 May to cover the 10 new member States of the European Union: the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.

The WTO Committee on Government Procurement approved on 23 April the necessary modifications to the EU schedules extending coverage of the GPA to the new member States of the European Union. The GPA is now legally binding for those countries. The extended GPA coverage offers new procurement opportunities to suppliers of goods and services in the 10 new EU countries as well as in the other GPA members.
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Meanwhile, the WTO Import Licensing Committee on 5 May reviewed 31 notifications submitted under various provisions of the agreement, a situation some members described as an improvement but still unsatisfactory.

The committee’s main function is currently transparency and review, and as usual, the main purpose of this hour-long meeting was information on members’ import licensing procedures. On the table were six questions or replies to questions, and 31 notifications from 21 members. Delegates spoke on a handful of these.

The chairperson continued her efforts — and her predecessors’ and the Secretariat’s — to encourage members to notify their import licensing measures. This includes notifying if they have no import licensing requirements at all.
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Fifth introduction course on the WTO for LDCs opens in Geneva
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The 5th Introduction Course on the WTO for Least Developed Countries, organized by the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation of the WTO, opened on 24 May and will end on 11 June.

Twenty representatives of least developed African, Caribbean, Asian and Pacific countries are attending this course, which is organized in French at WTO headquarters. The three-week programme is being held at a key moment in the process of relaunching negotiations within the framework of the Doha Development Agenda.
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The WTO is introducing online courses for governments officials from developing countries with the inaugural course “Introduction to the WTO and its Basic Principles” starting on 21 June 2004.

The courses are delivered through the internet using distance learning technologies that allow interaction between participants and WTO tutors. Government officials from developing countries can participate in the WTO on-line training regardless of their work location.

The inaugural course is entitled “Introduction to the WTO and its Basic Principles” and will be held in English. The objective of the course is to familiarize participants with the World Trade Organization, the multilateral trading system and its legal framework.
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The United States Government, on 14 May, pledged a contribution of US$ 994,100 (CHF 1.3 million) to the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund for 2004.

The United States’ contribution will be used to strengthen the technical capacity of developing
countries to assess their interests and to participate in market access negotiations and in the WTO’s work on trade facilitation.

“I am extremely grateful to the United States for helping developing countries,” said WTO Director-General Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi. “The WTO’s technical assistance activities play an important role in facilitating the understanding and implementation of the Agreements, precisely at this time in the negotiations when we have a foundation for future work.”

The United States is the fourth biggest voluntary contributor to WTO technical assistance activities since 1995, with a total of CHF 8.5 million.

Appellate Body issues first annual report back to top

The WTO Appellate Body, on 7 May 2004, issued its Annual Report for 2003 (Word format, 43 pages, 698KB) containing information about changes in the composition of the Appellate Body, appeals filed, Reports circulated, participation of WTO members in appeals, amendments to the Working Procedures, technical assistance and other developments that took place last year. The Annual Report was accompanied by a Communication (Word format, 1 page, 41KB). from the AB Chairman to the DSB Chair.


WTO activities  back to top

Director-General Supachai, in his opening statement on 25 May at the WTO public symposium “Multilateralism at a Crossroads”, said that trade negotiators are facing a “historic window of opportunity” and urged civil society to add their voice in WTO's work to “further improve and reform the multilateral system”.

He concluded: “The time has come to show that you can live up to that responsibility, as some of you already did after the unfortunate outcome of the Cancun Ministerial Conference. Over the years, familiarity with the multilateral trading system has grown. Many of the organizations here today have built up a tremendous network of knowledge and resources. I urge you to use your knowledge and experience in a responsible way, to the longer term benefit of the system and its Members. The WTO is at work again, determined to further improve and reform the multilateral system, to the benefit of its Members and their constituents. I see no reason why you should not add your voice to that.”

In his foreword to the WTO Annual Report 2004 issued on 26 May, Dr. Supachai said that this and the organization's three other annual publications are “part of the WTO's continuing efforts to work in a manner which is transparent, informative and in tune with the expectations of the public around the world”.