Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Oct16/08)
7 October 2016
Third World Network
Buenos Aires to host WTO's MC11 next year
Published in SUNS #8326 dated 5 October 2016
Geneva, 4 Oct (Kanaga Raja) -- A meeting on Monday of the General
Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has formally agreed
that Argentina will host the organisation's eleventh ministerial conference
(MC11) in 2017.
This came following Uruguay's decision to withdraw its bid to host
MC11 in Punta del Este. Both Argentina and Uruguay had earlier in
July offered to host MC11.
According to trade officials, the dates of the conference have not
yet been agreed.
However, the Chair of the General Council, Ambassador Harald Neple
of Norway, informed members that the dates of 4-7 December 2017 are
being looked at.
Director-General Roberto Azevedo thanked both Argentina and Uruguay
for offering to host MC11, and said that this "will put us on
an excellent path" to follow up on the successes of Bali and
Nairobi. It will "also focus minds on identifying deliverables"
for MC11, he said.
REPORT BY CHAIR OF TRADE NEGOTIATIONS COMMITTEE
In reporting to the GC, in his capacity as chair of the TNC, Azevedo
referred members to the report that he had made at a Heads of Delegation
(HOD) meeting on Friday (30 September), which he said will be added
to the record of the General Council meeting.
He reiterated his call at the General Council for members to deepen
and widen their conversations in the coming days. "This will
be essential in order to create an atmosphere of trust so that, in
due course, proposals can be discussed and progress made," he
In his remarks at the HOD meeting last Friday (posted on the WTO website),
Azevedo had said it was important that members deepen their discussions
about what they want to achieve between now and MC11.
"I think the immediate priority now should be to deepen conversations
between members to scope out the issues ahead of the 11th Ministerial.
We should especially look for those balancing elements that take into
account members' different interests and positions - elements that
respond to the needs of developed, developing and least-developed
members," he had said.
A number of delegations spoke at the informal HOD meeting on Friday
and their statements were added to the record of the General Council
meeting on Monday.
In these statements, Members reportedly reiterated their positions
on the various issues including their priorities for possible outcomes
for MC11. (See separate article above.)
In previous HOD and General Council meetings, a number of developing
countries had made clear that development outcomes are crucial at
MC11 and that priority must be given to the Doha issues.
They had also stressed that accords on issues of public stockholding
for food security purposes and the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM)
must be delivered at MC11. The development dimension must also be
central, they had said (see SUNS #8292, #8241 #8181 and #8179).
A few delegations spoke at the General Council meeting under the agenda
item of report by the TNC chair.
According to trade officials, Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Arab
Group, stressed the need to move from reflection to action.
There is need to build on the Bali and Nairobi Ministerial Declarations.
Tangible progress needs to be made and the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration
should be used as a basis, it said.
Benin, on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), highlighted
the importance of advancing progress in all areas of work.
Expressing concerns about the slow pace of negotiations, it said that
there is need to change the approach.
Trade is an important driver for development and poverty alleviation,
but only if everyone is playing by the same rules, said Benin.
It stressed the importance of an agreement on duty-free quota-free
market access for LDC products (DFQF).
The LDCs are also in favour of a substantial reduction, or total elimination
of, trade-distorting support in agriculture.
They stressed on a multilateral approach on fisheries subsidies and
strong disciplines on illegal and unreported fishing, and highlighted
the importance of Special and Differential Treatment (SDT).
The LDCs said that they have taken note of the developments on e-commerce
and stressed the importance of ensuring that LDC interests are taken
The Dominican Republic, on behalf of the informal group of developing
countries, said it is deeply concerned about the slowdown in trade
expansion, referring in this context to the WTO's recently revised
forecast for trade growth down to 1.7%.
The development dimension must be at the heart of the WTO's work,
stressed the Dominican Republic.
Expressing support for Benin's statement on behalf of the LDCs, Nepal
said that there is need to implement the Bali and Nairobi Ministerial
There also needs to be a balanced, development-centred outcome, and
that the Doha Round issues should be a priority.
According to Nepal, new issues should be taken up on the basis of
how ripe they are and on their merits.
IMPLEMENTATION OF BALI AND NAIROBI OUTCOMES
Under the agenda item of implementation of the Bali and Nairobi outcomes
in the respective WTO bodies, the General Council Chair, Ambassador
Neple of Norway, informed members that there will be a dedicated session
on e-commerce this October.
According to trade officials, on the issue of Aid for Trade, he said
monitoring and evaluation will be a crucial element of the Aid for
Trade work programme of 2016-2017.
The General Council Chair urged members to fill in the questionnaires
and submit case studies by the end of October.
On the issue of agriculture, he said that in November, the Committee
on Agriculture will be holding a meeting to take up the question of
On LDC issues, the Chair said the issue of DFQF is on the agenda of
the Committee on Trade and Development and this will be taken up in
On the SDT monitoring mechanism (part of the Bali package), he said
that there have been five meetings held but there has not been a single
written submission made.
On preferential rules of origin (one of the Nairobi deliverables),
Ambassador Neple said that there is an effort to try and come up with
a mutually agreed methodology of calculating the utilization rates,
but this still has to be approved.
He noted that there is also a draft template on notification for those
advanced countries that have preferential schemes for LDCs in services.
The Chair urged these countries to fill it in and notify before the
end of the month.
On Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs), the Chair said that there was
an agreement to try and work towards transforming the transparency
mechanism (agreed in 2006) into a permanent mechanism.
On the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), he said there have been
94 acceptances so far which is 85% of what is needed for the TFA to
come into force.
Under this agenda item, Benin said the LDC Group has been in discussions
with the US, the EU and Pakistan on the issue of DFQF. It will put
forward a draft template for notification on preferential rules of
origin very soon.
It urged members to adopt the template and methodology for calculating
the utilization rates.
Under a separate agenda item, new chairs were appointed for three
WTO bodies. The Negotiating Group on Market Access for Non-Agricultural
Products (NAMA) will now be chaired by Ambassador Didier Chambovey
of Switzerland (replacing Ambassador Remigi Winzap of Switzerland),
while the Council for Trade in Services in Special Session will be
chaired by Ambassador Hector Cima of Argentina (replacing Ambassador
Gabriel Duque of Colombia).
The Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation will be chaired by
Ambassador Mariam Salleh of Malaysia (replacing Ambassador Esteban
Conejos of the Philippines).
According to trade officials, the General Council Chair announced
that the process for the selection of the new Director-General is
According to trade officials, DG Azevedo has informed the General
Council Chair that he will submit a letter to him indicating his candidacy
for a second term and that he will do that before the process formally
begins on 1 December 2016.
[Azevedo began his first four-year term of office as DG on 1 September
2013. At a media briefing on 27 July 2016, during a General Council
meeting, Azevedo had said that even though the formal process has
not started yet (it begins when the General Council Chair launches
the process at the October General Council meeting), he has indicated
to members that he "will make himself available, if members feel
that this is helpful, I will be there to go for a second term at that
point in time."
[When the General Council Chair launches the process "then I
will formalize this decision but it was just an indication to avoid
the rumours and avoid speculation and uncertainty," he had said.
(See SUNS #8292 dated 28 July 2016).]
According to trade officials, under the 2002 procedures for the appointment
of Directors-General, between the period of 1 to 31 December 2016,
other candidates can be nominated by WTO members for the post of WTO
[Under the procedures set out in document WT/L/509, the appointment
process shall start nine months prior to the expiry of the term of
an incumbent Director-General with a notification from the Chair to
the General Council. The process shall conclude with a meeting of
the General Council convened not later than three months prior to
the expiry of an incumbent's term, at which a decision to appoint
a new Director-General shall be taken.] +