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STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ALI MCHUMO OF TANZANIA ON BEHALF OF LDCs AT THE GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING ON 31 OCTOBER, 2001 ON DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECLARATION

Mr. Chairman, Let me on behalf of the LDCs thank you for convening this meeting and for putting the revised texts for the Fourth Ministerial Conference only 10 days before we go to Doha. 1 wish to join others in commending you and the Director General, ably assisted by the Deputy Directors-General and other members of the Secretariat for your dedication and efforts in managing the process to where we now are.

Mr. Chairman, this has been a long process and we are anxious to bring it to an end where we can have results satisfactory to all of us.  When you issued your first Ministerial Draft Declaration (Job No. 1/140), a month ago, 1 made a detailed statement on behalf of the LDCs on 2 October 2001 commenting on your draft and putting forward a number of proposals which would properly reflect the concerns of the LDCs as clearly put forward by the LDC Ministers who had met in Zanzibar, Tanzania at the end of July to take a common position with regard to the Fourth Ministerial Conference. 

Although we acknowledge that some changes have been made in the Draft to reflect some of our concerns, the current Draft falls short of the kind of text we would be comfortable with as it has not sufficiently accommodated our major preoccupations.  Certainly, we did not expect all our proposals to be accepted in toto as part of a consensus text, but we did expect our major proposals or reservations to be reflected, even if they were to be put in square brackets or as separate options to be considered. I commend your effort in trying to avoid the kind of text we had for Seattle with so many brackets and options, but at least in that text it was clear what was accepted to the membership and what were the differences which had to be addressed by our Ministers.  What caused the failure of Seattle was not the mere presence of the brackets in the text, but it was the lack of the political will to resolve the differences for reasons that we all know. 

The Draft text which we now have is seemingly clean but as you have admitted in your introductory remarks and in the cover page, this is not an agreed text in any part at this stage, and this means that even if there are no physical brackets on any part of the text, there certainly are many “mental” brackets to be united at Doha.  In that sense, this text may perhaps be more complex and more difficult for Ministers to use as a basis for consensus than if the differences in key areas were made more explicit.

Mr. Chairman, it is not my intention to explain in detail paragraph by paragraph as to the kind of text we would want.  We intend to submit to you a more detailed proposal package that would fully meet our expectations and we shall ask you to transmit it to the Ministers in Doha as well as circulate it to the Membership here in Geneva and in the meantime let me  just highlight a few major areas of concern to us.

(1)    The Centrality of Development and the need to redress the imbalances in the Multilateral Trading System.

Although there is some reference to development in the existing text, we would want to see stronger language to express the tangible commitments to development in the multilateral trading system and the commitment to redressing the existing imbalances.  It is for this reason that we already have proposed a Development Agenda for the multilateral trading system whose elements we have defined in a statement I made on 22 October 2001 and which has been circulated to Members.  It is our view that what the MTS needs is a Development Agenda that will give first priority to the needs of LDCs and other developing countries in a framework of sequencing which will also accommodate the preoccupations of developed countries after sufficient time is allowed for developing countries to understand and prepare for the necessary adjustments.  It is for this reason that we proposed to add a new paragraph or strengthen the existing paragraphs in the preambular part of the text to reflect this major preoccupation for us.

(2)    The need to strengthen the development paragraphs 32-37

To operationalize the Development Agenda we have referred to above, we need to strengthen the paragraphs in the text that deal with development issues.  In this respect paragraphs 32 and 33 which deal with technical cooperation and capacity building ought to be strengthened to sufficiently emphasize the need to address supply side constraints faced by the LDCs and other developing countries.  Similarly, the existing paragraph 35 on LDCs ought to be further strengthened to highlight the need for a more predictable market access for the LDCS, fast-track accession for LDCs and a more tangible commitment to implement in full the Program of Action for the LDCs as decided in the LDC 3 Conference in Brussels.  At the same time, we need to ensure that the operationalisation of the Special and Differential Treatment provisions is made more effective by making them binding.

(3)    Trade, Debt and Finance and Transfer of Technology

We believe that the relationship between trade, debt and finance and transfer of technology are important for the development problematique and the WTO must address the issues urgently by setting up appropriate Working Groups to deal with them and so the relevant paragraphs must be strengthened accordingly.

(4)    Market Access for Non-Agricultiiral Products

In our statement on 2 October, the LDCs had expressed grave concern on de-industrialization faced by many LDCs and other developing countries as a result of industrial tariff cuts, resulting in closure of local firms and loss of jobs.  We had then stated that we were unable to accept the paragraphs on industrial tariffs and objected to the launch of negotiations and to the sentence that “product coverage shall be comprehensive and without a priori exclusions.” We had proposed instead that a study process be initiated to examine the impact of previous tariff reductions, and that this process should determine whether there should be future negotiations, and further that LDCs and other eligible developing countries should be exempted from further liberalization in this area.

Unfortunately the second draft has not fully taken these views into account and we insist that our views which have been so explicitly stated, be included in a revised draft and we have provided the necessary language to accommodate our preoccupation.

(5)    On the Singapore issues

Our views on the Singapore issues are well known and we reiterated them when reacting to your first draft by stating once again that LDCs were not ready to negotiate on them since the issues were complex and the L,DCs were not able to fully understand the development implications for them.  It is for this reason that with regard to investment and competition policy, we preferred the options for the continuation of the study process and we took the same view for government procurement and trade facilitation.  We are therefore surprised and disappointed that in your current text there is only one option for negotiations on all the four areas.  It is very clear that on these issues there has been no consensus and thus there is no basis with coming up with a new draft that reflects only one view, that there shall be negotiations on all these four issues.  We have studied paras 20 and 21 on investment and competition and found that in effect negotiations will begin immediately because there is already a commitment to negotiate modalities of agreements after the 5th Ministerial; therefore the work programme of the next two years on clarifying elements is in effect already the first stage of negotiations.

Mr. Chairman, as there is no consensus, there cannot be negotiations, if the spirit and letter of the Singapore Ministerial decision is to be adhered to. Therefore we propose that the option of continuing the study process for all the four Singapore issues be included in a new draft to be transmitted to Doha and this is in line with the LDC Ministers decision in Zanzibar.

On TRIPS

As you know Mr. Chairman, the TRIPS Agreement is of great concern to LDCS, as evidenced by the concern expressed by the LDCs Ministers in Zanzibar.  In our statement of 2 October, we had proposed several additions.  Unfortunately the present text still has not improved much and the paragraphs on TRIPS (para 17-19) remain very disappointing to tis.  We therefore reiterate our proposal, made on 2 October, and urge that the text’s section on TRIPS be improved accordingly.

Organisation and Management of the Work Programme

When we commented on the text under this heading in your first draft, we reiterated the unambiguous views of LDC Ministers that LDCs were not in a position to undertake broad based negotiations involving new issues due to lack of capacity to negotiate and implement new commitments and we had requested you to review this matter with a view to evolving a programme which would be manageable and that will accommodate LDCs interests.  Reading paragraphs 38 to 45 together with paragraph 11 of current text leaves no doubt that the Work Programme envisaged to be launched in Doha is a broad based and expanded programme of negotiations with the inclusion of a number of new issues for which we are not prepared as already indicated.  We note that in your current text there is provision for technical assistance at the end of all the paragraphs that call for negotiations on the four Singapore issues to be made available presumably to LDCs and other developing countries.  While such technical assistance is welcome, it should not be assumed that by mere provision of technical assistance of the kind and level that we are used to see, this will radically transform LDCs to fully implement the commitments to be undertaken as a result of such negotiations.  It may as well be that implications of such commitments will be so far-reaching that you may need much more comprehensive effort to transform our economies before we can fully fulfil our obligations or fully enjoy the purported benefits of such negotiations.  It is for this reason that we would once again call for a programme of work that fits with our definition of a Development Agenda where the priorities of LDCs and other developing countries will be given priority as already explained above and which will not include new issues which will unnecessarily add to the already heavy burden of the LDCs and other developing countries.

With regard to the draft Ministerial Declaration on TRIPS, we would prefer the title to be Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, and in paragraph 4 we would prefer Option 1. With regard to paragraph 10, we appreciate the move to exempt LDCs from the obligations under Sections 5 and 7 of Para 11 of the TRIPS Agreement with respect to pharmaceutical products until 1 January 2016.  We would only wish if such extension were made with respect to the implementation of the entire TRIPS Agreement and we request that it be made clear that this partial exemption shall in no way prejudice our right in future to request for extension of transition or even exemption for the implementation of the entire Agreement.

To conclude, Mr. Chairman, as I have already pointed out at the beginning, of my intervention, this text that you will present to the Ministers is deceptively simple since it has no brackets but we all know that it hides major differences in some areas as already indicated.  It would indeed have been preferable if we had time for a third draft that would have taken into account this discussion and even put square brackets where there is no consensus, but since time is not on our side, you may wish to transmit this Draft to Ministers with a very clear covering letter to explain the areas where there were major differences and the rationale of your suggested compromised text. Of course this is not a substitute for us Ambassadors to brief our Ministers, but your explanatory note will be much more authoritative and will make our job as Ambassadors much easier.

 


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