Commissioner Lamy, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you, Commissioner Lamy, for giving me the opportunity to
participate in this important event.
It is certainly particularly significant for me that this event should
take place on the eve of the WTO's Fifth Ministerial Conference.
Sustainable development was the first issue I had to address as Director
General of the WTO. In fact, on the very first day of my term in office,
exactly one year ago, I travelled to Johannesburg to attend the World
Summit on Sustainable Development (the “WSSD”). I greatly appreciate
discussing issues related to sustainable development within the context
of the United Nations. At regular meetings of the Chief Executive Board
under the UN, sustainable development is at the heart of our
As you know, trade liberalization is an important engine of economic
growth — it contributes to poverty alleviation. Trade liberalization
also leads to a more efficient allocation of resources, including
natural resources. I particularly welcome the fact that WSSD, and the
Rio Summit before it, have recognized this. In fact, WSSD explicitly
stated that the main contribution the WTO can make to sustainable
development is the successful completion of the Doha Development Round.
Our main objective now in WTO is to bring the Doha Round to a successful
conclusion, with the Cancún Ministerial Conference being an important
step along the way.
The Doha Round, as you know, has been launched in full cognizance of the
importance of Sustainable Development, a concept enshrined in the
Preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO. The importance
for WTO members of pursuing a sustainable development path was also
reflected in the fact that the Doha Declaration assigned certain WTO
bodies the task of monitoring the environmental and developmental
aspects of the new negotiations.
Let me address the way in which the Doha Round can contribute to
sustainable development. I will first look at the developmental aspects
of our work, and then at the environmental.
The Development dimension
First, with regard to development, it is important to mention that great
efforts have been undertaken in the WTO to integrate developing and
least-developed countries in these negotiations, particularly through
trade related technical assistance.
The Doha Declaration contains numerous commitments on technical
assistance and capacity building. It also contains commitments to
mainstream trade into national plans for economic development and
poverty alleviation. To achieve these objectives, the WTO has built
strategic partnerships with other international institutions, as well as
regional development banks. In addition, a “Doha Development Agenda
Global Trust Fund” which has been established through the contributions
and pledges of WTO Members, has proved to be instrumental in financing
technical assistance needs.
Let me now turn to some of the more substantive aspects of WTO's
developmental work. At the centre of the Doha Development Agenda are
market access issues. In the negotiations on agricultural and industrial
goods, and in services, special attention is being paid to products and
sectors of export interest to developing countries.
There is great expectation about the results of the market access
negotiations, and rightly so. There can be little doubt that the
benefits from liberalisation could be substantial. The share of
developing countries in world trade amounts to approximately 30 per
cent. Through the new negotiations, it can be made to grow even further.
Trade liberalization and improved market access also have the potential
to contribute to increased South South trade. According to recent
statistics, intra developing country trade has almost doubled over the
last decade, reaching 10.7 per cent of total world trade in 2001.
In the agricultural sector, policy reform and trade liberalization can
offer potential gains for all countries, particularly developing ones.
The reduction of trade distorting agricultural subsidies is crucial to
facilitating access to international markets for developing country
exports, and increasing their competitiveness in this important sector.
In addition to market access, developing country concerns are being
addressed through many other components of the Doha Development Agenda.
For instance, the Agenda calls on the WTO to tackle “implementation
issues,” which include addressing the difficulties that developing
countries face in fulfilling existing WTO obligations. The Agenda
stipulates that WTO Members look at the implementation of the special
and differential treatment provisions of various WTO Agreements. They
must also look at the problems faced by small economies, and must
examine the issues of “trade, debt and finance” and of technology
On TRIPS and Public Health, WTO Members reached an historic agreement
just a few weeks ago to resolve the issue of access to medicines for
countries without manufacturing capacity. Poorer countries can now make
full use of the flexibilities in the WTO’s intellectual property rules
in order to deal with the diseases that ravage their people. This is
concrete proof of the seriousness with which Members take the
development dimension of these negotiations.
The environment dimension
Let me now turn to the environmental aspects of the WTO's work. For the
first time in the history of the multilateral trading system,
environment negotiations have been launched in the WTO. These
negotiations have been welcomed by WSSD.
For many years, WTO Members have examined the relationship between
international trade and international environmental law. At issue was
the consistency between the two legal regimes. The negotiating mandate
agreed to in Doha was to a large extent a culmination of that work. The
Doha mandate explores how WTO rules can apply to a trade dispute between
WTO Members that concerns the provisions of an environmental agreement
that they have signed.
Various limitations were placed on the mandate so that WTO members would
only address those issues that they are sufficiently comfortable with.
For, it is important to remember that this is the first time that we
hold environment negotiations in WTO.
Although carefully circumscribed, these negotiations are extremely
significant in that they signal the beginning of new relationship
between the international trade and international environmental regimes
— a relationship in which each regime recognizes the importance of the
other. It is also a relationship in which each regime explores how best
it can harmoniously co-exist with others. I am pleased with the progress
that WTO Members have made on this part of the environment mandate.
The environment negotiations are also looking at how to enhance
cooperation and information exchange between the WTO and the
environmental community. For, it is widely recognized that greater
consistency and coherence between the WTO and MEA legal regimes can be
achieved through improved coordination. Such coordination can avoid the
emergence of conflicting obligations at the international level. In
fact, it is for this reason that WTO Members have repeatedly called for
improved national and international coordination between trade and
environmental policy makers. I am pleased that WTO members have made
important progress on this part of the mandate. They have identified
numerous avenues through which increased cooperation can take place. I
would like to pay tribute to the role played by Ambassador Yolanda Biké
(of Gabon) in leading the discussions on trade and environment.
The environment negotiations also comprise trade liberalization in
environmental goods and services. The objective of these negotiations is
to ensure that goods and services which may be needed for environmental
protection, are made more accessible to all through the removal of
tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. An environmental good could for
instance be a catalytic converter, and an environmental service could be
a consultancy service provided by a waste management firm. One of the
important issues in these negotiations will be to define what
environmental goods actually comprise. A pending question, for instance,
is whether the negotiations will only cover industrial goods, or will
include agricultural goods as well.
Having spoken about the environment negotiations that are taking place,
I hasten to add that these negotiations do not exhaust the scope of the
WTO's work on environment. The reasons for this are that the broader
inter-linkages between trade and environment are continuing to be
explored in WTO, but outside the negotiating context, with issues such
as environmental labelling being looked at. Another reason is that, as I
have mentioned earlier, the environmental aspects of all the
negotiations taking place in context of the Doha Round are being
For instance, in the rules negotiations, members are looking at whether
existing rules on subsidies capture environmentally harmful,
trade-distorting, fisheries subsidies. These negotiations demonstrate
how the international trade and international environmental protection
agendas can meet, with trade liberalization contributing to natural
resource conservation. It is one of the areas of the Doha negotiations
being monitored for its sustainable development dimension.
As you can see, sustainable development issues pervade all aspects of
the Doha Development Agenda, and the Doha Round has the capacity to
deliver sustainable development gains.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development has called for the
successful completion of the Doha Round, and this is what WTO Members
are currently striving to achieve.
The Ministerial Conference that will start tomorrow is an important step
along the way. It will be a chance for WTO members to take stock of two
years of negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda, and to take
meaningful steps in setting the road map for the final phase. The
success of this Round, and the contribution which it can make to
sustainable development, is vital to us all.