Brussels, 21 October 2015/ WTO: Attending a meeting of trade ministers from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States in Brussels today (21 October), WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo outlined the significance of the WTO’s forthcoming ministerial conference in Nairobi in December.
He described the state of play in negotiations, the difficulties in advancing the core Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues, and some of the potential negotiated outcomes which might be achieved in Nairobi.
These outcomes include steps on export competition in agriculture. DG Azevêdo said this would be the WTO’s most significant negotiated outcome on agriculture to date, which has long been the top priority for developing countries. In addition, he underlined the importance of development and least developed countries (LDC) issues, which should be at the heart of any agreement in Nairobi. The Director-General also pointed to the future.
He said:
“Nairobi is the WTO’s first ministerial conference to be held in Africa since the organization was created in Marrakesh two decades ago. This underlines the importance of delivering outcomes for development. But it will also be a milestone in terms of the future of the organization. What we deliver in Nairobi and the path that we follow after Nairobi will be crucial in determining the future role of this organization as a forum for trade negotiations.
“Whatever we deliver in Nairobi, clearly it would not be viable, or credible, to announce it as a satisfactory conclusion of the DDA. So how do we take forward the outstanding issues after Nairobi? There is a clear divergence among the membership on this point. It seems to me that all members agree that the DDA core issues must remain on the negotiating agenda, such as agriculture, market access, and services. I think there is consensus on that. However there is no agreement on how these negotiations should take place: whether under the present Doha framework, or whether under some new architecture.
“But this is not the only question we have to answer concerning our post-Nairobi work. In fact, we all know that negotiations on a wide range of issues are already taking place outside the WTO.
“I want the system to be operational and capable of helping to deliver growth and development for all of you. So we need to find a way of dealing with the divergent opinions you may have about the future. We have started a discussion on these issues in Geneva. All members will determine how to take this forward.
“A huge amount is at stake in the coming weeks — in terms of the potential Nairobi deliverables, and in terms of what success, or failure, would mean for the future of the WTO. I urge you all to recognize what is at stake. I hope you will engage very closely in all of this work in the coming weeks. I will be here to help you. And I assure you that the process will continue to be open, transparent and inclusive at every stage.”
There was a good exchange of views at the meeting, and the Director-General pledged to bring the views of the ACP back to all WTO members in Geneva.
The meeting was hosted by ACP Secretary-General, Ambassador Patrick Gomes and chaired by Joshua Setipa, Lesotho’s Minister of Trade and Industry. The Director-General was also joined on the panel by Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed of Kenya, who will chair the 10th Ministerial Conference, and Ambassador Marion Williams as the Coordinator of the ACP Group at the WTO.
– WTO News