Ministers, on 2 December, consulted intensively on revised sections of a Seattle
Ministerial Declaration. Two Ministerial Working Groups on Systemic Issues and on
Trade and Labour Standards met for the first time. The Conference Chairperson,
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, assisted by the Chairpersons of the Working Groups and
Director-General Mike Moore have begun putting the various sections together into one text
for consideration of Ministers on the final day of the Conference.
summaries of today's meetings:
OF THE WHOLE
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky (US)
Barshefsky urged Ministers to redouble their efforts towards a successful outcome. She
said that the immediate aim now is to produce unbracketed (agreed) text. The Chairpersons
of the various Working Groups reported on the progress made so far in their respective
areas. There was a brief discussion on the organization of the next phase of Ministerial
2 December 1999, 3:356:30 pm
Minister George Yeo (Singapore)
Brigadier-General George Yeo of Singapore, introduced a new one-page draft on agriculture
the result of lengthy consultations through the night and morning.
He explained how he
had organized his consultations and apologized to those who could not participate. He
stressed that this was his own draft, not a negotiated document, based on the
The draft contains
some compromise wording which tries to strike a balance between different views on the key
issues. Some 60 countries commented. They largely confirmed their existing positions on
key issues, for example:
- Integrating agriculture
into the mainstream of WTO rules
- The final objective for
reducing export subsidies (whether to eliminate or not)
- Market access
- Domestic support
- Non-trade concerns and
- Developing country
end the Chairman said he would try to amend his draft according to the comments but he
warned countries not to raise their expectations too high because agriculture is
such a difficult subject it will be impossible to please everyone.
is now being inserted into a complete draft text for the declaration. Although countries
have expressed reservations with various aspects of the draft on agriculture, they can
still decide in the coming hours whether to accept it and whether to seek further
amendments but this time in the context of the declaration as a whole.
the meeting, the Chairman said he was walking a tightrope. He was being pulled equally in
both directions, he said. The danger was that if he moved one way or another he would fall
off the rope. But he observed that the text was only for launching new negotiations.
"The new round is where the real battle will begin," he said. If the round is
concluded, it will boost global welfare by tens of billions of dollars, he concluded.
2 December 7
Pierre S. Pettigrew (Canada)
brief meeting, the Chairman, Minister Pettigrew of Canada, presented a new text on
implementation issues, which he said was his best effort in bridging the sharp differences
in this area. He said that one delegation objected strongly to paragraphs on Anti-Dumping,
Subsidies and Textiles, and that this delegation had submitted its own proposal. He said
that there was a significant gap between this delegation's proposal and the position of
most delegations. There were no other statements made.
text contains proposed immediate decisions, subjects for negotiations, a new plan of
action for the full and effective integration of LDCs into the multilateral trading system
and reinforcement of technical cooperation for developing countries, particularly the LDCs
as well as small, vulnerable economies and transition economies.
AGENDA AND OTHER ISSUES
Lockwood Smith (New Zealand)
45 delegations spoke and positions on all issues remained largely unchanged.
delegations reiterated positions on extending protection of geographical indications to
other products. On Government Procurement, various positions continued to be
maintained. On Trade Facilitation, many developing countries are still reluctant to
negotiate new rules in the areas covered by this topic; the need for enhanced technical
cooperation was stressed. On Coherence and proposed Working Groups, some
developed countries said working groups should all be put under one umbrella, while many
developing countries said there was no problem in establishing many, separate groups.
2 December, am
Minister Mpho Malie (Lesotho)
raised in the consultations held by the Chairman focused on the methodology of
tariff-cutting negotiations. A number of delegations are proposing a common approach.
Unlike in the Uruguay Round where members cut tariffs on a "request-offer"
basis, this would be a harmonized approach that would facilitate comparisons of tariff
reduction proposals. Another position is using the combination of request-offer and
harmonization in the negotiations. Certain major traders are calling a reference in the
text to an effective increase in market access. The Accelerated Tariff
Liberalization initiative for certain product sectors was also raised.
Minister Juan Gabriel Valdes (Chile)
Anup Kumar (Fiji)
raised by member governments in this discussion concern:
organizational structure to improve transparency and decision-making,
information flows and
public understanding of and participation in the workings of the organization.
addition to paragraph 77 of the 19 October text, there are now four proposals on the
table. They are from Mexico, the EU, the US and Norway.
Mexican and EU proposals received widespread support. The US proposal, which calls out for
establishing more formal channels of communication between the WTO and NGO Community and
the establishment of an advisory body, received some support from the EU, Norway, Japan
and Switzerland. A number of delegations questioned the role of NGOs in an
AND LABOUR STANDARDS
Vice-Minister Anabel González (Costa Rica)
working group was set up today to discuss proposals for creating a labour standards
working group within the WTO or a body operated jointly by a number of international
organizations to look at the issues. Opinions differed, with a number of developing
countries opposing the creation of either type of body.
also: WTO BRIEFING NOTE (1) - Summary of December 1