THIS BRIEFING NOTE IS DESIGNED TO HELP JOURNALISTS AND THE PUBLIC
UNDERSTAND DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CANCÚN MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE. WHILE
EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO ENSURE THE CONTENTS ARE ACCURATE, IT
DOES NOT PREJUDICE MEMBER GOVERNMENTS' POSITIONS.
> 10 September
> 11 September
> 12 September
> 14 September
Draft Cancún Declaration, as forwarded by Pérez del Castillo and
Supachai to ministers:
Revised draft Ministerial declaration
as presented by Chairperson Luis Ernesto Derbez on the fourth day of
the Cancún Ministerial Conference.
Other WTO Ministerials:
9–14 Nov. 2001
30 Nov–3 Dec 1999
> Geneva 18 & 20 May 1998
Singapore 9–13 Dec. 1996
Chairperson and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez distributed
a new draft ministerial declaration, compiled from texts supplied by the
various “facilitators” at a brief meeting of heads of delegations just
after midday. He suspended the meeting to give delegations time to study
it, and reconvened the meeting at 7:00 pm.
Mr Derbez said that the text is still a draft and its aim is to help put
together all the insights gained through various modes of consultation
with a view to putting together an overall package that would win broad
acceptance. He said it contains all of the elements necessary to enable
members to strike a deal and address the key needs and concerns of all,
in a satisfactory manner.
Following the meeting he and Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi
would continue consulting with members in a variety of formats, assisted
by the facilitators. The focus will be on those areas where serious
differences remain, Mr Derbez said.
By the meeting’s close after 1:00 am, a large number of ministers had
spoken. Although most recognized the effort that had been put into
bridging some of the gaps, most ministers criticized the points they
disliked. They largely repeated well established positions arguing that
their particular concerns had not been included in the text.
For example, they found the agriculture section either too ambitious or
not ambitious enough. They differed over whether to launch negotiations
on the Singapore issues or whether there is no consensus to do so. They
had comments on the non-agricultural market access text, including the
description of the tariff cutting formula and whether sectoral deals
(zero tariffs for all products within specified sectors) should be
compulsory for all members.
Several said the text on the cotton initiative did not reflect the
proposal to phase out subsidies and for subsidizing countries to
compensate the African producers in the interim. And a number of African
and Caribbean countries in particular said the draft does too little on
special and differential treatment for developing countries.
A few countries, both developed and developing, expressed concern that
the negative sentiments would wipe out what they described as possible
significant results in areas such as agriculture, which are particularly
important for developing countries. Two large members warned that each
delegation would be responsible for what happened that night.
Chairperson Derbez’s closing warning
At the close, chairperson Derbez said he would reflect on the ministers’
comments. He said he was very concerned as to whether members are
willing to work together to reach a consensus, given the time left
before the end of the meeting — less than 24 hours.
Mr Derbez said he understood that ministers wanted to put their
positions on the record and this did not worry him. But he was concerned
if the ministers were willing to let the process fail. Agreement is
needed in order to give the world economy a boost, he said, and if the
meeting fails the only winners will be the enemies of the trading
Describing this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity, he warned that if
Cancún fails, the negotiations may take a long time to recover.
He and the director-general would start consultations with smaller
groups of ministers, and if they make the right kind of progress, he
would reconvene the heads of delegations meeting at around noon (Sunday