and I jointly have made our report to the Council on the current state
of the preparatory work for Doha, and I stand by every word of that.
It is a sobering assessment of the volume of work and the political
commitment that is required if we are to arrive in Doha at an outcome
acceptable to all WTO members. But I want to add something as
Director-General — that is, as the guardian of the long-term health
of the trading system embodied in the WTO — to what we said there. I
feel I owe it to the Council to be as frank in this room as I have
been in public about my views on the importance of the Doha meeting.
cannot pretend that this can be merely a “routine” ministerial
meeting, at which ministers will discuss general economic trends and
progress in the WTO's built-in agenda. The context in which ministers
will meet ensures that a fundamental decision will be taken at Doha,
whether positive or negative, which will have long term implications
for the future of this institution and the way we conduct our
business. In our joint report, Mr. Chairman, we have said that failure
to reach consensus on a forward work programme that would advance the
objectives of the multilateral trading system, particularly in the
light of the earlier failure at Seattle, would lead many to question
the value of the WTO as a forum for negotiation. It would certainly
condemn us to a long period of irrelevance, because it will not be any
easier next year, or the year after.
questions facing ministers will be the same as at Seattle: are they
ready to launch a wider process of negotiations — a new round, in
fact — and if so what should its content be. I have made no secret
of my conviction that a new round is necessary. There is no better way
in which we can effectively address the problems of economic slowdown
or prevent the further marginalization of many developing countries
through the weakening of the multilateral system. There is no other
way in which we can make sure that the legal system embodied in the
WTO responds to economic reality. There is no other way in which we
can sustain the momentum of the negotiations on agriculture and
services. Nowhere in the world, as far as I know, is the need for
negotiation on agriculture disputed; but nowhere else in the world, if
not here, is that negotiation going to happen.
of the rules in this system have been negotiated — that is their
strength and the source of their legitimacy. But by the same token
they can only be changed by negotiation. Minister Simba of Tanzania
spoke recently about inequities in the system, and he is right —
they exist. But only negotiation can remove them. Not to negotiate
means accepting the status quo, which was yesterday's compromise. I
said on 26 June — and some criticised me for saying it — that
opting for the status quo will not stop further trade negotiations
next year. They would take place, but outside the WTO, with those not
included bearing the cost of exclusion.
the question may be the same as at Seattle, the context is not. Many
problems that plagued the pre-Seattle process have been the subject of
intensive efforts in the past 18 months. To take the most important:
to your untiring efforts, Mr Chairman, and those of your
predecessor, internal transparency and participation have been
greatly improved; since February, 35 plenary meetings of the
Council, formal and informal, have been devoted to the Doha
process. As a result, the positions of delegations, both the
objectives of the proponents of an expanded negotiating agenda and
the problems seen by others, are far better understood.
progress has been made towards realizing our objectives in respect
of technical assistance and market access for least-developed
countries. Implementation issues have been exhaustively examined,
in an intensive, dedicated process, and we all understand how
central this issue is for progress. The Secretariat has also
worked hard to assist smaller, resource-poor and non-resident
delegations to play their proper part in the WTO's work.
arguments in favour of launching a new round have been recognised by
an increasing number of international institutions, notably by the
Secretary-General of the UN himself, and by a succession of
ministerial and leaders' summits. However, a large number of players
are not yet convinced. I firmly believe that the best answer — in
fact the only answer — to those who remain sceptical about the merit
of new negotiations is a forward looking work programme which caters
for the interests of all Members, but in particular the developing and
least-developed countries. Similarly, the best response to those who
deny the benefits of trade liberalization in economic development is a
negotiating agenda which strives to make international trade fairer.
we are still far from agreement. Not all members are convinced of the
need for new negotiations and among those who are there is
insufficient clarity about the scope and level of ambition envisaged.
It is to be expected that while this uncertainty persists many members
will hesitate to commit themselves. On most of the specific issues
described in our report quite wide gaps remain between positions.
These gaps are still there because the process of single-issue
consultations has reached its limits; in negotiation you have to
address the relationships and possible trade-offs between issues, and
this involves political commitment and decision. This process has
have to tell you that if the Doha meeting were taking place in
September I would now be saying that the opportunity had been missed
— that reconciling these differences in the time remaining was no
longer possible. But there is time. That is why we are reporting this
reality check to you now, in July. It is perfectly possible to achieve
an outcome at Doha which would be satisfactory to all members and
which would benefit both the trading system and the world economy. To
do that will require immediate and concentrated attention in capitals.
This cannot wait until September. By the beginning of September we
must be ready to start the intensive process of negotiation that will
enable you to put before ministers a coherent and balanced draft
declaration. They cannot be expected to resolve all problems in four
days at Doha. Ministers have warned us time and again that the package
must be largely agreed before they go to Doha.
have said this many times before, but it is still true: what is in
question is the launching of negotiations, not their conclusion. The
agenda must be balanced and fair, and the principle of consensus must
ensure that the outcome is acceptable to all members. All this is
possible. The greater danger is a failure to reach consensus that
would call into question the commitment of members to the multilateral
system and to the principle of international cooperation.
have often described this meeting as the occasion for a “reality
check”, and the report before you is the Chairman's and my
contribution to that exercise. It is now for you to undertake your own
reality check, here and in capitals. I urge all delegations to
undertake it in a frank and constructive spirit. Capitals must adjust
their demands according to what can accommodate others' needs. This
meeting should enable you to report that the time has come to get real
— that long-held positions must be reviewed and reconciled so
that we can make a start on a negotiating agenda that will benefit all
I am positive we have in this chamber people of quality and vision,
who know the costs of not making progress, who know the state of the
world economy and the role the multilateral trading system can play.
We know also that 3 billion people, half the world's population, live
on less than $2 per day. That figure could rise to 4 billion within 25
years. We have it within our grasp to do something about it.
look forward to your return in September. But I need to say that the
situation is fragile, and without generosity, good manners and good
will, the process could implode and become unmanageable. Unless the
reality we now see is taken to heart and acted upon, the passage of
time will change the reality for the worse, and the process could
become unmanageable. If we return in September with unchanged
positions then I fear the worst. There is time, we must use it. When
we meet again the question will be “What has changed?”.