Chairperson Derbez, who is Mexico’s foreign minister, had held
consultations immediately after the previous evening’s heads of
delegations meeting ended at about 1 am.
> See yesterday's report
He described his consultations at a later meeting with all WTO members
and at press conference. He said that because “speech after speech” in
the heads of delegations meeting had been about the Singapore issues —
trade and investment, trade and competition policy, transparency in
government procurement, trade facilitation — his first consultation with
a smallish group of participants had been about this group of subjects.
The consultations, which ended at about 4 am revealed that this was the
most difficult issue, and he therefore decided that the next
consultations, which began at about 8:30 am would start with this
subject, he said.
These consultations were with a larger group representing a wide range
of regional and other groups. During these consultations positions
shifted, allowing the possibility of dropping negotiations on one or two
subjects, Mr Derbez said. He then suspended the consultations for
transparency, so that participants could meet their respective groups.
But when the participants returned it was clear that there was no
consensus and so he decided to close the meeting.
Mr Derbez then reported to the heads of delegations meeting at about
4:00 pm. He proposed a six-paragraph ministerial statement, which was
approved in the closing session at almost 6:00 pm. This instructs member
governments’ officials “to continue working on outstanding issues with a
renewed sense of urgency and purpose and taking fully into account all
the views we have expressed in this Conference.”
The ministers asked the General Council Chairman and the WTO
Director-General, to coordinate this work and to convene a meeting of
the General Council at senior officials level no later than 15 December
2003 to take necessary action.
Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said there was no hiding the fact
that the deadlock was a setback. He said he was disappointed but not
downhearted. He said it is important to ensure the negotiations are put
back on track. If the Doha Development Agenda fails, the losers will be
the poor of the world, he said. He pledged to work hard for a successful
Mr Derbez concluded that members have to learn from the lack of
consensus, that business as normal will not succeed, and that some
soul-searching is needed. He blamed part of the deadlock on a failure to
move a way from rhetoric — no one can live off rhetoric, he said.
The WTO and its members can still make a difference for the poorest, he
The ministerial statement
1. As we conclude our Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancún, we would
like to express our deep appreciation to the Government and people of
Mexico for the excellent organization and warm hospitality we have
received in Cancún.
2. At this meeting we have welcomed Cambodia and Nepal as the first
least-developed countries to accede to the WTO since its establishment.
3. All participants have worked hard and constructively to make
progress as required under the Doha mandates. We have, indeed, made
considerable progress. However, more work needs to be done in some key
areas to enable us to proceed towards the conclusion of the negotiations
in fulfilment of the commitments we took at Doha.
4. We therefore instruct our officials to continue working on
outstanding issues with a renewed sense of urgency and purpose and
taking fully into account all the views we have expressed in this
Conference. We ask the Chairman of the General Council, working in close
co-operation with the Director-General, to coordinate this work and to
convene a meeting of the General Council at Senior Officials level no
later than 15 December 2003 to take the action necessary at that stage
to enable us to move towards a successful and timely conclusion of the
negotiations. We shall continue to exercise close personal supervision
of this process.
5. We will bring with us into this new phase all the valuable work
that has been done at this Conference. In those areas where we have
reached a high level of convergence on texts, we undertake to maintain
this convergence while working for an acceptable overall outcome.
6. Notwithstanding this setback, we reaffirm all our Doha Declarations
and Decisions and recommit ourselves to working to implement them fully
No decision yet on next ministerial conference
In the closing session, the ministers asked the General Council
chairperson to continue consultations on when and where the next
Ministerial Conference will be held.
They noted “with appreciation” that before the General Council meeting
in August, Hong Kong China had offered to host the next meeting.
However, Chairperson Derbez noted that because members were preoccupied
with the contents of the Cancún conference, they had not been able to
discuss the dates and venue seriously, except in informal contacts with
The Ministerial Conference has to be held at least once every two years.