27 Nov 2014
WTO WORK IS BACK ON TRACKBrussels Daily
TO: 2014 NEWS ITEMS
27 November 2014
WTO work is “back on track”, says Azevêdo
Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, at a meeting of the General Council on 27 November, congratulated members for adopting decisions related to public stockholding for food security purposes, the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the post-Bali work. He said: “We have delivered today on a promise we made in Bali. Now let’s make it count”.
Statement by DG Azevêdo
Thank you Mr Chairman.
It seems we liked Bali so much we wanted to do it all over again!
But, we made it.
I want to thank everybody — Ambassador Fried, Ambassador Conejos, all of the chairs, everyone who has brought us here today.
This is a very important moment for the WTO.
By agreeing these three decisions we have put ourselves back in the game. We have put our negotiating work back on track — that means all the Bali decisions: trade facilitation, public stockholding, the LDC issues, the decisions on agriculture, development, and all of the other elements.
And we have given ourselves the chance to prepare the post-Bali work program.
But, crucially, during this process we have seen a renewed commitment to the multilateral system.
This would not have happened without the commitment and political will of all 160 WTO members present here today.
Members have shown the willingness to compromise — and a real commitment to the multilateral system.
So I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody for the restraint and flexibility that you have shown in recent days.
It has been a tough period for our negotiating work, but we have got the right result today.
Nevertheless, I think we would all agree that we need to find an easier way of doing things. While we have seen renewed commitment to the WTO, the truth is that we must avoid repeatedly putting ourselves in this position.
We have lost precious time since July, and it goes without saying that we can’t wait another two decades to deliver further multilateral outcomes.
We have to think about how we can operate in a more efficient way.
The size and diversity of the Organization is not an impediment to that. The consensus rule — that people talk about so much and which will never disappear — is not an impediment either.
We showed in Bali that we can deliver. Now we need to figure out how to deliver more and how to deliver faster.
So we should be pleased that our work is back on track. But this is where the real work begins.
We have to make this breakthrough meaningful by seizing the opportunities for progress that it provides.
We have just finished one journey — but now we must embark on another.
You have just adopted texts which say that work will start immediately.
And that means immediately. The dictionary definition is: without delay, instantly, at once, without lapse of time. So this is what we will do.
You have committed to engage constructively on all of the Bali decisions and the work program on the remaining DDA issues.
It is clear that members place real priority here and so we must get to work straight away.
I will be convening a meeting with the negotiating group chairs tomorrow to ask that they bring members together immediately to begin resuming work in all of these areas.
It is important that we start planning for 2015 as soon as possible. We have a new deadline for the work program of July 2015. So we definitely don’t have any time to lose.
Ambassador Fried as the chair of the General Council will also be moving straight away to take forward the decisions which come under the regular bodies of the General Council. Indeed, he told me a moment ago that he will be convening a meeting of the chairs of the regular bodies next week.
So all of this work is back on track.
On Public Stockholding, we are committed to following an accelerated timeframe.
I trust that members will now deliver this commitment and work constructively together towards finding a permanent solution. We have a target date to conclude the negotiations: December 2015. So again, we don’t have any time to lose.
On Trade Facilitation, adopting the Protocol of Amendment was an essential step. It allows the process of implementation to begin. But this is just one of many steps we need to take going forward.
It is very positive that we have already received 50 Category A notifications, including the first from an LDC member. This is a large proportion of the potential total given that developed members are not eligible as they don’t submit these notifications.
Now all members must work closely with their capitals to begin the process of ratification. Two thirds of members must deposit their instruments of acceptance for the agreement to come into force.
So I urge you to push forward the ratification process in your capitals.
The adoption of the protocol is also significant because — I am very pleased to say — it means that the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility is now officially operational.
I want to thank the many donor members and Annex D organizations who have shown strong support for the Facility.
We will be giving the Secretariat resources to ensure that the Facility is a success, but for this initiative to thrive and succeed, it will need buy-in from all of us.
Since its launch in July, many members have already expressed their willingness to make contributions to the Facility.
I ask members to further strengthen their bilateral programs, but I also ask them to provide all the support they can to the Facility. We must ensure that LDCs and developing countries get the help they need to reap the full benefits of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Through the Facility we will continue to work closely with other organizations such as the World Bank, the WCO, UNCTAD, the OECD, the ITC and others.
Many developing country members have already benefitted from assistance programs provided by these organisations, and I encourage this work to continue alongside, and in support of, the Facility.
So there is a lot of work ahead to honour what we have decided here today.
We have just two weeks until the December meeting of the General Council.
Let’s make the most of the momentum that we have today and use these next two weeks to plan our way forward.
I will be travelling over the next few days: attending the East African Community summit in Nairobi, conducting a bilateral visit in Dar es Salaam, and taking part in the African Union trade ministers meeting in Addis Ababa.
And, as I have set out, there will be a range of meetings going on here in Geneva during this period.
We should aim, by the time of the General Council on the 10th of December, to have a clear sense of what lies ahead — and a plan for taking our work forward in the New Year.
We have delivered today on a promise we made in Bali.
Now let’s make it count.
Thank you all.
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