Chair’s Farewell Remarks

Ms Irene Young (Permanent Representative of Hong Kong, China)

As I handover the gavel and wish the new Chairman, Ambassador Juan Carlos Gonzalez (Colombia), every success in the year ahead, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who had contributed to the work of the TPRB over the past year. Together we have been through 54 formal and informal meetings, covering 23 TPRs, a full Appraisal of the TPRM, as well as the Director-General's regular reports on trade policy developments. The smooth conduct of these meetings, and their successful conclusion, would not have been possible without your active participation and strong support.

I am immensely grateful to the Secretariat team, for giving me all the help that I need to do the job properly. Thanks to your professionalism and dedication, we have Reports of superb quality, capital visits which really make a difference, and at all times your expert advice to count on. You have been my counsellors, partners, and will remain my friends.

Special thanks to the 22 Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives who had kindly accepted my invitation to serve as Discussants at the TPRs.  Some of them have already left Geneva, but I would like to put on record my sincere appreciation for the extra work that they had done for the TPRB, amidst their own very busy schedule. Their serious efforts and useful input deserve rounds of applause.

Finally, I wish to thank Members for entrusting me with the work of the TPRB and allowing me to serve you in this capacity. Our founding fathers had had the wisdom of putting the TPR mechanism in place, and it falls on all of us, the successive generations of WTO delegates, to make the best use of it. I have had the honour and privilege, not only to learn from the TPRM, but also to contribute to its maintenance and improvement.

The biggest reward, to me, is knowing that the work of the TPRB has an impact on Members’ trade policies, guiding their development and catalysing their reforms. Every time I hear senior capital officials say that their policy changes were inspired by the frank exchanges at previous TPRs, I know our efforts are bearing fruit.

At the WTO, we seek to create a more open and level playing field for international trade, thereby contributing to the economic growth and development for all. Through its tireless, persistent and solid work, the TPRB is quietly but steadily contributing to this vision. As Members of the TPRB, we should be proud of having been part of this process.  As your chair for the past year, I certainly am.

With these words, I declare the meeting closed.