Africa Trade Magazine

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, at a joint meeting of the Africa, Least-developed (LDC) and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) groups, on 14 September, said that the priority at the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, in December, must be delivering on development.

He assured them that their issues are at the forefront of his mind and "that I will do everything I can to support meaningful development and LDC outcomes in Nairobi". This is what he said:

Good afternoon.

I hope you have all had a good break. It is great to see everybody back in Geneva, looking rested, re-energized and — I hope — ready for the task ahead.

You will all recall the TNC meeting on the 31st of July.

I heard a clear, united message from members at that meeting. There was a real determination to hit the ground running in September with a single-minded focus on delivering substantive, meaningful outcomes in Nairobi.

That's why I thought it was so important that we meet today. We need to start this work now.

And I wanted my first action to be getting these three groups together.

Our priority at MC10 must be delivering on development.

This will be our first ministerial conference in Africa, and it must deliver for Africa.

So, over the handful of weeks between now and Nairobi, we have to identify some clear potential outcomes in support of development, and particularly in support of the LDCs.

I think there is broad consensus around this — but we still have a long way to go if we are to define clear deliverables.

I want to work closely with all of you in this effort.

As usual, I will meet with you in a variety of different formats and configurations — and I will listen to you individually, as necessary. My door will remain open.

I will also be maintaining close dialogue with the three coordinators — both together and separately as I recognise, of course, that while there are many shared issues you also have different areas of focus

As before, I will aim to complement the work of the chairs.

And I will continue talking to capitals.

During the August break, I explored ideas with the Secretariat and with some delegations which were still in Geneva. I even spoke to some of your ministers and updated them on where things stood. I also invited ideas on the next steps. Everybody expressed their commitment for a successful MC10, and were keen to see meaningful development outcomes in Nairobi, particularly for LDCs.

I will also continue attending meetings convened by members — when I am requested to do so.

Australia has invited me to take part in a meeting of senior officials from a number of members later this week. I am pleased that no time is being wasted. I will take that opportunity to stress the importance of reaching meaningful development outcomes in Nairobi.

Across all of these meetings and during the entire process, please rest assured that transparency and inclusiveness will be maintained.

Indeed, I will be convening a meeting of Heads of Delegations in Room W on Thursday this week. 

Now, as we all know, time is definitely not on our side. We have just 92 days left before the start of MC10. We must make each day count.

This can only be done if we focus our conversations on the substantive issues and work towards developing practical, doable outcomes.

We need to move our discussion on from issues of process, broad principles and restated positions to an actual exchange of concrete ideas.

I asked you to use the summer to talk to your capitals, test your red lines, reflect on the red lines of others, and come back with a broader sense of what might be doable from your perspective. Or, better still, I asked you to come back with proposals.

I hope you have done this.

I would like to see further written proposals submitted to the different negotiating groups. I think this will be crucial. And, in this regard, I would like to commend all of you here for putting forward the two proposals that were presented in July:

  • First, the textual suggestions submitted by the G90 on Special and Differential Treatment in document JOB/TNC/51 and Corr.1. This proposal provides a solid basis to advance work in this very important area so that we can deliver a significant outcome on S&D for Nairobi. I understand that the Chair of the CTD-SS intends to begin substantive consideration of these proposals, and that she has prepared an intensive work plan for the coming weeks to this end.
  • Second, there was the submission from the ACP Group putting forward proposals for bridging gaps on the remaining DDA issues and development outcomes for MC10. This was document JOB/TNC/50. This very comprehensive proposal is a positive signal of your commitment to this process.

We should now seek to build on this work. These proposals are important and very timely.

I hope that they are a sign that we are now shifting towards a results-oriented conversation. And I hope that these kinds of initiatives will proliferate in the weeks to come.

I also want to say a few words about LDC issues which will be a central element of all this work.

Looking at the Bali issues in turn:

  • On rules of origin the LDC Group indicated during the July TNC meeting that they will prepare a submission. This will be an important document and I hope it can be brought forward in the next couple of weeks. 
  • On DFQF a dedicated discussion will be held next week in the CTD to help us find a way forward.
  • On the services waiver there has been some progress. 14 members have so far responded as they pledged to do earlier in the year. And I have received assurances from a number of others regarding their intention to grant meaningful preferences.
  • On cotton, I am looking forward to seeing concrete proposals from the cotton proponents. Again, this could be an important element of a meaningful development outcome in Nairobi.

In broader terms, we need to maintain and enhance all of our work in implementing the Bali decisions. If we need to tackle other DDA areas of interest to the LDCs it will be important that the LDCs spell that out to propel us closer towards our goal in Nairobi.

So there is a great deal still to do.

The only way of getting to where we need to be is to keep putting proposals on the table.

I say again that I want to work with you over the coming weeks.

I assure you that your issues are at the forefront of my mind — and that I will do everything I can to support meaningful development and LDC outcomes in Nairobi.  

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the practical outcomes that we should seek to deliver.

In closing, I have one additional point to make, which is about ratification.

In addition to urging developed members to take action on the LDC services waiver, I have been urging all members to take the necessary steps to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement, and to accept the TRIPS Amendment on Public Health.

It is crucial that we move forward on both of these elements.

They will deliver important gains, but they are also tests of our credibility.

It is a decade since ministers agreed to the TRIPS amendment to provide this unique flexibility. And the current deadline for its acceptance is this December.

So this is another area where we need to act.

If you have any technical questions about what steps need to be taken, then the Secretariat is here to help. Please don’t hesitate. Their doors are open, just like mine. 

Thank you.

 

SOURCE: WTO.ORG

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