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Lamy: The trade talks are at a “crucial” phase

Director-General Pascal Lamy, in a speech on 18 May in Geneva at a forum on “The City and the Quality of Life”, said that members now have to assume their responsibility and table proposals, in particular the EU, the US and large emerging countries. He also said that in establishing trade rules, the WTO is a tool in managing globalization.

In his report to the General Council as chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee on 15 May, he urged negotiators to find “second wind” in trade talks. He said trade negotiators “now need to push to the finish”. “We can achieve modalities — I am convinced of that, but it is going be hard work... as we all know, looking at the developments in the world around us, the stakes are too high for us to fail”.

Mr. Lamy, in his introductory statement to the Trade Negotiations Committee on 1 May, said that finding consensus in the negotiations “remains doable, but only if a sense of urgency — which I feel is not always shared by all — starts appearing in each and every delegation”. “We must now focus our efforts on working intensively, continuously and in an effective manner on a text-based negotiating process, which is solidly anchored in Geneva”, he added.

In his opening remarks to the 5th Munich Economic Summit on 4 May, underlined the possible gains from the Doha Round, He said that “like all good teams, Germany and Europe know that what they need are clear and transparent rules, a level playing-field and a trusted referee” in international trade. He added that the challenges for Germany and all other countries are “to keep on with the hard work, to have the courage to adapt to ever changing circumstances, and in not getting discouraged”.

On two occasions during the month, the Director-General highlighted the environmental dimension of the current Round:

  • In his remarks to the Commission on Sustainable Development on 10 May, he urged WTO members to pursue “more forcefully” the environment dimension of the Doha Round. He said that “negotiations on the trade liberalization of environmental goods and services, as well as on the relationship between WTO rules and multilateral environmental agreements, could have a positive impact on the energy sector”.

  • In a video conference address to the opening session of the European Commission's Green Week 2006 in Brussels on 30 May, he urged WTO members to lend their support to multilateral environmental accords. He added that the Doha Round is “a once in lifetime opportunity” to confirm the need for mutual supportiveness between the WTO and MEAs.

On 19 May, in a speech to the European Society of International Law at Sorbonne, Paris, he said that the WTO is “a catalyst for international mutual respect towards international coherence and even for more global governance, which I believe is needed if we want the world we live in to become less violent, be it social, political, economic or environmental violence”.




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Uruguay: Further liberalization could help sustain a recent record of strong growth

The WTO Trade Policy Review body conducted the third review of Uruguay's trade polices and practices on 17 and 19 May. The review was chaired by Amb. Eirik Glenne (Norway) on 17 May, and by Amb. Claudia Uribe (Colombia) on 19 May. Amb. Mario Matus (Chile) acted as discussant for the review.
After four years of economic contraction since the last review in 1998, Uruguay is experiencing strong growth, expected to be over 6% for 2005, thanks to a macroeconomic adjustment programme, the strengthening of the financial sector and a policy to keep markets open, according to a WTO Secretariat report on the Trade Policies and Practices of Uruguay by the Trade Policy Review Body.
The report notes that during the period of economic contraction, Uruguay did not make use of trade restrictive measures to address the crisis, it made scant use of contingency measures, applied limited non-tariff barriers and made improvements in areas such as import procedures, customs valuation and intellectual property protection, while additional reforms are under consideration.
The report also says that to promote greater economic efficiency and diversification it would be particularly important for Uruguay to further liberalize its economy on an MFN basis and anchor these efforts through multilateral commitments.



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DSB discusses EC's first status report concerning implementation of the sugar rulings

At its meeting, on 17 May, the DSB considered EC's first status report about measures to reform its sugar regime.

On 9 May, it established a second panel to consider additional EC and member States measures affecting trade in large civil aircraft brought by the EC.




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CTD: Questions tabled on ASEAN-China framework agreement
At the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) regular meeting on 11 May, the notifying members said that they will reply soon to questions submitted by the European Communities, the United States and Japan on the Enabling Clause notifications concerning the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China.
Also with regard to Enabling Clause notifications, the EC introduced its notification concerning its revised GSP scheme and gave preliminary responses to questions from Brazil and China. The EC indicated that it would shortly provide written responses to those questions as well as to questions circulated by India at the meeting.
The Committee took note of the report on the 39th session of the Joint Advisory Group on the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO and forwarded it to the General Council for adoption.
Under the agenda item concerning the Committee's review of steps taken to provide duty-free and quota-free market access (DFQF ) to least-developed countries, the US made a submission in which it provided an overview of the procedural steps it would need to take to implement the Hong Kong Decision.
A number of developed Member delegations made interventions supporting the need to implement the Hong Kong Decision as soon as possible. They highlighted some of the existing measures and those being taken to comply with the Hong Kong mandate to provide market access to LDCs.
Zambia, on behalf of the LDCs, expressed the view that questions concerning market access for LDCs should be discussed in the Special Session of the CTD.
The US and Canada, however, said that their interpretation of the mandate was that negotiations on the issue were complete and it was now for the Regular Session of the CTD to review steps being taken to implement the Decision.
Under the item relating to the declining terms of trade for primary commodities, the International Coffee Organization made a presentation on its work in improving market conditions for coffee producers. The Committee agreed to invite the Food and Agriculture Organization to make a presentation at its next meeting.
Under the item relating to technical cooperation and training, the Committee took note of the Technical Cooperation Audit Report for 2005.

CTD holds dedicated session on small economies

At the 14th Dedicated Session on Small Economies of the Committee on Trade and Development on 26 April, members discussed how best to monitor proposals made on small economies issues in the negotiating bodies and agreed that a compilation document prepared by the proponents could serve as the basis for this work. The summary document could be further supplemented by reports from the Chairs of the negotiating bodies to the Chair of the Dedicated Session and through inputs by the Secretariat.
Regarding the small economies' proposals for regional bodies in the areas of TBT, SPS and TRIPS, Members agreed to discuss at the next meeting of the Dedicated Session the reports which had been requested from the Chairs of the SPS and TBT Committees and the TRIPS Council. Members also agreed to begin work on drafting a recommendation to the General Council which recognizes the rights of Members to designate regional bodies to assist them in the implementation of their obligations in the areas of SPS, TBT and TRIPS. Members would incorporate any comments and concerns expressed in the reports of the SPS, TBT and TRIPS Chairs into the recommendation.
The meeting benefited from the attendance of delegates from Members and Observers without missions in Geneva who are participating in the 12th Geneva Week event.

Norway pledges 10 million Norwegian Kroner to WTO Technical Assistance

The Government of Norway made on 2 May a contribution of 10 million Norwegian Kroner (2 million Swiss Francs) to the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund.

37th trade policy course starts

Government officials from twenty-one countries started on 1 May a three-month Trade Policy Course (TPC) in the WTO Secretariat at its Geneva Headquarters. The participants in the 37th TPC were welcomed by Paul Rolian, Director of the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation, who chaired the traditional opening ceremony.

Twenty-five government officials from developing countries, least-developed countries and economies in transition had the opportunity to strengthen their negotiation skills and knowledge during a two-week WTO Specialized Course on Trade Negotiations which took place from 8-19 May in Geneva.

An online course in Spanish has been organized for 143 government officials from developing countries from 15 May to 23 June 2006 (six weeks). The course is entitled “7th Introduction to the WTO and its Basic Principles”. The objective of the course is to familiarize participants with the World Trade Organization, the multilateral trading system and its legal framework.

The WTO Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation and the Agriculture and Commodities Division, in cooperation with the World Organization for Animal Health, are organizing a two-week Specialized Course on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) in Geneva, at the WTO Headquarters from 16 to 27 October 2006 (immediately following the SPS Committee meetings).



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WTO makes public all official GATT documents

The WTO has decided to make public all official documents issued under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) during the period 1947-1995. “Providing access to these historic documents is a further sign of the WTO's commitment to transparency. This will be especially important for academics, trade specialists and others with an interest in how the trading system evolved in the GATT era, from 1947 to 1995”, said WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy.

WTO Secretariat reports further declines in both new anti-dumping investigations and new final anti-dumping measures

The WTO Secretariat reported that during the period 1 July-31 December 2005, the number of initiations of new anti-dumping investigations and the number of new measures applied continued their previously-reported downward trends, with 2005 marking the fourth consecutive year of declines in new initiations, and the second in new measures.

Managing the Challenges of WTO Participation: 45 Case Studies

Forty-five case studies from economies around the world, each of which illustrates how governments, business and civil society manage their country’s participation in the WTO.This publication was made possible with funding from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

This compilation of forty-five case studies documents disparate experiences among economies in addressing the challenges of participating in the WTO. It demonstrates that success or failure is strongly influenced by how governments and private-sector stakeholders organize themselves at home. The contributors, mainly from developing countries, give examples of participation with lessons for others. They show that when the system is accessed and employed effectively, it can serve the interests of poor and rich countries alike. However, a failure to communicate among interested parties at home often contributes to negative outcomes on the international front. Above all, these case studies demonstrate that the WTO creates a framework within which sovereign decision-making can unleash important opportunities or undermine the potential benefits flowing from a rules-based international environment that promotes open trade.