Brussels, 2 December 2013/ WTO/ ACP: The coordinator of the ACP Group at the World Trade Organisation has welcomed a potential breakthrough in talks on trade facilitation, in the lead up to this week’s WTO ministerial conference in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 6 December.
The Bali Conference has been touted by international media as “pivotal” in the history of the organisation, and the last chance to advance the stalled Doha Development Agenda.
ACP coordinator, Geneva-based Ambassador of Jamaica H.E. Mr Wayne McCook said: “The ACP welcomes the agreement reached by [Least Developed Countries] and key partners on all outstanding LDC specific elements of the section two of the Trade Facilitation text.
“This clears the way for more determined efforts to close remaining gaps in the Bali package and ensure the success of the Bali Ministerial based on agreed outcomes in development, trade facilitation and agriculture.”
Trade facilitation and Least Developed Countries are both key themes of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference, along with agriculture and development issues. Trade facilitation, which involves streamlining border and customs procedures worldwide, is the closest to being agreed on by the 159 WTO membership.
Discussions over the next four days aim to bring about a “Bali Package” to satisfy all parties, and set the pace for continued negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda.
Towards a Bali package
WTO reports on Thursday 28 November announced that the Least Developed Countries were satisfied that Section 2 of the Trade Facilitation text is now “largely stabilised”, thus “resolving all of their outstanding issues with the Bali package”.
Acting Coordinator of the LDC Group, H.E. Ambassador Mosé of the Solomon Islands said: “The Least-Developed Countries are looking up to the entire WTO membership to make all efforts to conclude the Bali package without delay, thus contributing to the development of the most disadvantaged peoples of the world.”
Developing countries have pushed for trade rules that protect their right to development since the Doha rounds began in 2001. Subsequent negotiations have failed to produce global framework to which all WTO members agree.
Thursday’s resolution of the trade facilitation text underlines the hope that the MC9 meeting may result in some headway.
“This is an important step forward… The changes to the text will have to be brought to the wider membership for their approval, but I am confident that members will accept them on the basis that the LDCs are fully satisfied with this outcome… This package is not about developed versus developing – the overwhelming majority of the developing world is urging the Bali package across the finish line,” said Director General Robert Azevêdo.
The 9th WTO ministerial meeting opens today in Bali, Indonesia. More than 650 individuals and 350 organisations are expected to participate. Official website:
– ACP Press