The meeting is at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center


Seattle Ministerial Conference must deliver for the poorest, says Moore

Mike Moore, World Trade Organization Director-General, has outlined his priorities and expectations for the Seattle Ministerial Conference, urging ministers to work towards an outcome which will deliver benefits for the world’s citizens, especially those living in the poorest countries.

“Over the next few days, trade ministers representing over 130 of our member governments, will sit together and work towards developing the framework for the global trading system in the 21st century,” he said.

“In terms of the negotiations over the next week, it is important to keep in mind that much of our work here in Seattle will be dedicated to laying a foundation for future negotiations. We know for sure that there will be intensive negotiations on agriculture and services. These two sectors alone comprise more than two thirds of global output and new agreements to liberalize trade in these areas hold the prospect of great benefit for all our member governments, the modest as well as the mighty.

“Other sectors may be included for future negotiations as well, trade and environment, trade and competition, trade and investment and trade in textiles are just some of the areas where some of our member governments would like to see negotiations. Other governments may press for a continuation of exploratory work rather than begin negotiations. For many developing countries, a very important issue is the implementation of existing agreements. This means finding ways to assist developing countries as they try to put into place their often complicated WTO commitments.

“While these negotiations will not yield definitive outcomes for several years, there are areas where we may reach agreement at this Ministerial Conference. Certainly, it’s conceivable we could reach framework agreements on transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation. Agreements in these areas would assure a ‘win-win’ outcome for all member governments, not to mention taxpayers and consumers.

“A continuation of the moratorium on duties applied to electronic commerce transactions is also a possibility.”

Mr. Moore, who assumed office on 1 September 1999, said he has dedicated the vast majority of his time and effort the past three months, to the preparation of this conference. He reiterated that his priorities and duties as Director-General include:

  • Facilitating and assisting countries to get the most balanced outcome from the negotiations at Seattle and beyond, an outcome which truly benefits the poorest economies.
  • Advocating the advantages of a more open trading system for the powerful, the developing and the least developed economies. A more open trading system, he said, can increase living standards and lead to a more prosperous, safer world.
  • Strengthening the WTO and its system and rules, building on and maintaining the organization’s reputation for integrity and fairness and re-shaping the organization to reflect the new reality of its Membership and their needs.

“My own personal wish-list for the Seattle Ministerial Conference,” he said, “includes an agreement here on a package to assist the least developed countries. Taken together these nations account for only half of one percent of world trade. And yet, in many cases they face import barriers higher than those applied to products from the richest countries. The removal of ALL barriers to imports from the least-developed countries would extend the gift of opportunity to people who desperately need our help.

“I would also like to see the member governments agree to increase the amount of money we spend on technical assistance and training. It is in the interest of everyone to ensure that all of our member governments can participate in the upcoming negotiations. Without adequate preparation and assistance from the WTO, many least-developed countries’ governments will not have that chance. We are not asking for much, SF 10 million, and I am confident that governments will agree here to help us in this regard.”