Implementation issues can’t be brushed under the carpet warning

by Chakravarthi Raghavan

Geneva, 1 Feb 2001 --  The General Council of the WTO is to meet informally 5 February to consider a work programme on the various implementation issues, as agreed to at the December meeting.

At a smaller informal meeting Thursday - to consult on a work programme on implementation to be agreed at the General Council at its meeting next week - the EC, Japan and others who are pushing for a new round to be launched at Qatar, as well as some of their supporters, in effect tried to wind up the implementation issues and the work programme, by rolling them all into a preparatory process for the next ministerial.

However, a number of developing countries said that the May 2000 decision of the General Council had clearly provided for decisions to be taken on a number of questions before the 4th Ministerial Conference, and this had been reiterated at the December meeting.

It was thus necessary to agree on a clear work programme and schedule enough meetings to ensure that the implementation issues are addressed and solutions found before the 4th Ministerial.

The EC in its so-called initiative, for launching a new round at Qatar and trying to bring investment and competition issues on to the WTO agenda, has said that the issues raised by developing countries, under implementation issues, could only be addressed in the wider context - an euphemism for a new round with new issues - where any concessions to developing countries under implementation would be balanced by developing countries agreeing to undertake new obligations and subjecting themselves to new disciplines in the areas of investment, competition policy, and other subjects.

According to trade diplomats, Pakistan, India and some other members of the like-minded group who were in the consultations in effect served notice that the implementation issues could not be brushed under the carpet by launching a new round.

After meetings on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos last week, the WTO Director-General Mike Moore is reported to have told some journalists that in the weeks ahead, the WTO efforts would focus on the preparatory process for the Doha meeting, and that he would aim to ready before July, a ministerial draft declaration for the launching of a round at Qatar.

EC officials, in their memorandum to the EU’s 133 Committee (see SUNS ##4825 and 4826), and in their briefings and consultations with some key countries, have said that they wanted a “brief and succinct” agenda, rather than the attempt to have a pre-negotiated outcome that contributed to the Seattle fiasco. – SUNS4828

The above article first appeared in the South-North Development Monitor (SUNS) of which Chakravarthi Raghavan is the Chief Editor.

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