WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

WTO NEWS: SPEECHES — DG MIKE MOORE

Monday 10 September 2001
Geneva Week 2001
Moore opens 3rd Geneva Week for non-resident members

Introductory statement by the Director-General

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> Press release: “Geneva Week” focuses on preparations for Doha



Distinguished participants and delegates, distinguished ambassadors, representatives of regional and international intergovernmental organizations, let me begin by welcoming you to this 3rd Geneva Week for non-resident Members and Observers.

At the outset, may I express my gratitude to those friends who have made this week possible. I would particularly like to thank the governments of Germany, the Republic of Korea and the United States for providing indispensable financial support. I would also like to thank the international intergovernmental organizations who have sent representatives to contribute their expertise to this initiative. I am pleased to see the enthusiasm of our members and colleagues in pulling together to help meet the needs of our non-resident Members and Observers.

One of my main objectives as Director-General has been to improve the level and quality of our participation by all our Members. I am pleased that a number of our non-residents have taken an active part in various WTO work processes over the last year, not least by submitting different proposals in the important mandated negotiations on services and agriculture.

From our side, we, as a Secretariat have undertaken a number of activities to assist non-residents. We prepare regular news summaries, giving an overview of work in the WTO. We are forming an internal secretariat task-force on small economies, which has as one of its aims to better coordinate our activities in favour of non-resident Members and Members with small and capacity-constrained missions. Over the past twelve months we have had important conferences and workshops, in Gabon for African Countries; Fiji for countries of the Asia Pacific; Jamaica for Caribbean countries; and Guatemala for Central American countries, to name only a few. Secretariat staff have also regularly travelled to other European capitals where non-residents are present to brief them on on-going work in the WTO.

Through these and other regular contacts, we have also been working closely with the secretariats of regional intergovernmental organizations who service non-residents. I am particularly pleased to welcome to this gathering a large number of representatives from such organisations, and I look forward to their input on how we can better service the needs of our Members at a dedicated session on Wednesday morning.

Representation in Geneva is tough to achieve for small, financially constrained Governments. Various agencies like the ACP, the Commonwealth Secretariat and AITIC are working on this. AITIC, with the help of the Swiss Government, has opened a non-residents' centre, providing a certain amount of office space for non-residents visiting Geneva for WTO and other meetings. I congratulate them on having achieved this. On Wednesday, you will be hearing from the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as AITIC, on their activities in relation to non-residents and proposals that they will make for better representation of non-residents. I hope that this discussion will lead to constructive thinking by all our Members on how to encourage representation of smaller and modest countries in Geneva.

Meeting the needs of non-residents requires two main elements: means to help them to be represented in Geneva, and a rational and integrated programme of technical assistance to their Governments covering both the ability to take part in WTO activities and the ability to trade and, through trade, to develop. On our side, over the past few months, we have restructured the organization of our technical cooperation and training activities, and have been working on developing a more effective strategy for the delivery of technical assistance. You will be hearing more about this in the course of the week, particularly on Friday morning when specialists from the WTO and our sister agencies will talk about our new approach to technical cooperation.

So we have a packed week ahead of us. Preparations for the Doha Ministerial Conference form the backdrop to our meetings and I pleased to be able to count on Ambassador Harbinson to provide an overview of the state of play, in his capacity as Chairman of the General Council. The Secretariat and a representative of the Mission of Qatar will also you brief you on the logistics of the preparations for Doha. Over the course of the week we shall have extensive briefings on a range of specific issues and topics: implementation-related issues, on-going negotiations in agriculture and services; intellectual property; market access; trade and investment; trade and competition policy; standards; and technical assistance. On Friday, a number of Ambassadors of resident missions in Geneva will be giving you their own perspectives on the Doha process.

Let me address more directly our preparations for Doha. We cannot pretend the meeting in Doha will merely be a “routine” Ministerial meeting at which Members will discuss general economic trends and progress in the WTO's built-in agenda. The context in which Ministers will be meeting ensures that a fundamental decision needs to be taken at Doha, whether positive or negative, which will have long term implications for the future of the multilateral trading system and the way we conduct our business. As the Chairman and I stated in our joint report at the end of July, failure to reach consensus on a forward work programme that would advance the objectives of the multilateral trading system, particularly in the light of Seattle, would lead many to question the value of the WTO as a forum for negotiations. It would certainly condemn us to a long period of hibernation, because it will not be any easier next year, or the year after.

The questions facing Ministers in Doha will be the same as at Seattle: are they ready to launch a wider process of negotiations — a new round, in fact — and if so what should its content be? I have made no secret of my conviction that a new round is necessary. There is no better way in which we can effectively address the problems of economic slowdown or prevent the further marginalization of many developing countries through the weakening of the multilateral system. There is no better way in which we can make sure that the legal system embodied in the WTO responds to economic reality. There is no better way in which we can sustain the momentum of the negotiations on agriculture and services. Nowhere in the world, as far as I know, is the need for negotiation on agriculture disputed; but nowhere else in the world, if not here, is that negotiation going to happen.

All of the rules in this system have been negotiated — that is their strength and the source of their legitimacy. But by the same token they can only be changed by negotiation. Any inequities in the system — and they exist — can only be removed by negotiation. It is my conviction that we will only achieve the fundamental breakthrough in a wider situation where there can be trade-offs. Not to negotiate means accepting the status quo, which was yesterday's compromise. A strong, vibrant, predictable and rules-based multilateral trading system is in the interest of all countries, particularly developing countries. They should seize this opportunity to fashion the system in such a way that it would be responsive to their development needs.

The preparatory process is in its final stage. Members are all agreed that the process thus far has been transparent and inclusive. Since February 2001, there have been 28 open-ended meetings at which 112 hours have been spent discussing various issues of interest to delegations. This excludes meetings which have been held on the implementation review mechanism. Members no longer feel that decisions are being foisted upon them, and there is a collective sense of responsibility that the process should produce results which would strengthen the multilateral trading system to the benefit of all Members.

We have less than 60 days to go before the Doha meeting. This means that we need to inject a sense of urgency into the process. It is clear that consultations on single issues have run their full course and it is necessary to begin holding consultations simultaneously on multiple issues, so as to enhance the possibility of linkages and trade-offs. As was announced by the Chairman last Tuesday, it is our intention to produce draft elements which would form the basis of a Ministerial Declaration for the consideration of Ministers at Doha by the end of this month.

Much works therefore needs to be done between now and the end of September. We expect all delegations to engage constructively and show flexibility where necessary. Clinging to well-known positions would not advance the process and might spell disaster for the rules-based multilateral trading system. Members should be prepared to make trade-offs and take into consideration the interests of other Members as well bearing in mind the over-arching objective of strengthening the multilateral trading system to make it more relevant in the 21st Century. It is imperative that all Members participate in the final build-up to Doha and it is my great hope that the many initiatives we have undertaken in the last two years to assist non-residents will help ensure your views and aspirations are fed into our processes.

Thank you.

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