Director-General Roberto Azevêdo addressed all WTO members today (8 October) at a meeting of the General Council in Geneva. He looked ahead to the prospects of success at the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference which will be held in Nairobi from 15-18 December this year, and reported on recent discussions in Geneva and other discussions, including among G20 trade ministers in Istanbul.
He reported that some areas of negotiations still seemed more likely to yield outcomes in Nairobi than others. These include: development issues with a particular focus on least-developed countries (LDCs); export competition in agriculture; and a set of possible outcomes to improve transparency in a number of areas. He said that work should be intensified on these issues, but also that this did not preclude identifying other outcomes wherever members thought they could be achieved.
The Director-General said:
“Through the various consultations over recent weeks I think members have identified a road to success in Nairobi. Clearly there are many obstacles along the way, but none in my view are insurmountable.
“I think we have a general sense of what may be on the table in terms of substantive deliverables — though it is not a closed package, or a sure package. And I think we should recognize that agreement on the elements we are talking about would represent real progress. They would have a major economic and developmental impact, even though we must strive to do much more in the future. So now we need to firm these up with textual proposals that can be advanced through the negotiating groups.”
The Director-General also asked members to look beyond Nairobi. Pointing to differences in members’ positions on the future of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), he said:
“Clearly these views will be extremely difficult to reconcile. However, I think we cannot disregard important commonalities when thinking about the way ahead. For example, I think we all agree that: i) we want to deliver something in Nairobi and that it should be meaningful; ii) whatever we deliver will not be agreed to be the end of negotiations on the DDA issues and; iii) we are still ready to keep pursuing the core issues of the DDA and their development dimension after Nairobi – although there is no agreement on how to do this, whether under the DDA framework or whether under a reformulated architecture. The question is whether we can – or whether we want – to capture these and other possible commonalities in a consensual text in Nairobi.”
He continued: “I would suggest that we start working on the basis that we will have a Ministerial Declaration that would take stock of the decisions taken at the 10th Ministerial Conference and that gives us guidance on our future work.”
The meeting saw a debate on these issues, with a range of views being expressed. The Director-General concluded the conversation by suggesting there was a need for further consultations with members on the substance of any potential Ministerial Declaration and the process of producing such a document.
These consultations will begin in the coming days. Negotiations on the potential deliverables for Nairobi will also continue, mainly through the formal negotiating groups and other relevant committees. In addition, the Director-General will be consulting ministers at forthcoming meetings of the African Union, the African, Caribbean, Pacific Group of States and a meeting of Arab Trade Ministers.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Trade Organization (WTO).