STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ALI MCHUMO OF TANZANIA ON BEHALF OF LDCs ON FUTURE WTO WORK PROGRAMME AT THE Heads-of-Delagations CONSULTATIONS at WTO - MONDAY, 22 OCTOBER, 2001
When LDC Ministers of Trade met in Zanzibar in July 2001 in preparation for the 4th Ministerial Conference, they expressed their major concerns and expectations with regard to the Multilateral Trading System and among them, three issues need to be highlighted:-
(1) The Ministers emphasized that the key challenge confronting the multilateral trading system is to ensure that issues of development are addressed decisively and therefore the promotion of development should form the core business of the multilateral trading system.
(2) The Fourth Ministerial Conference and the future WTO Work programme should address issues of major concern to LDCs and other developing countries including such issues as addressing implementation issues and correcting the imbalance in the existing WTO Agreements, confirmation and operationlization of the principles of special and differential treatment and trade policy flexibility to accommodate the interests of LDCs.
(3) With regard to the future WTO Work Programme account must be taken of the inability of LDCs to participate effectively in negotiations on a broad agenda and implement new obligations due to the limited capacity of the LDCs.
It was in this context that LDC Ministers identified what they regarded as our priorities for the forthcoming negotiations in the areas of capacity building to address supply side constraints, in market access, and in addressing implementation issues with regard to a number of Uruguay Round Agreements. The Ministers also identified some of the issues that were not a priority to us and indeed for which we are not ready and prepared to negotiate and the Singapore issues were clearly identified in this category.
This sum total of what we want and regard as our priorities and what we do not want and which we feel may even be unnecessarily burdensome and of negative value, is what our Ministers called the Development Agenda.
This name was not just picked for political rhetoric, but we believe the proposed package can contribute significantly to our development, and since we believe that international trade is not important for its own sake but as means to achieve development and growth, we believe it is relevant for the Fourth Ministerial Conference in particular and the WTO in general to take the Development Agenda on board. Indeed, there seem to exist a wide support even from developed countries that future multilateral trade negotiations must focus on “development” and various suggestions have been made as to how to characterize the development-centred negotiations.
However, while we all seem to agree that development ought to take a higher profile in future multilateral negotiations, we perceive the lack of strong political will on the part of major trading partners to attach the necessary priority to the issues that are at the core of LDCs and other developing countries preoccupations.
Indeed, we believe a Development Agenda must not be an isolated item for the LDCs alone but that the WTO Ministerial Conference needs to launch a Work Programme centred on a Development Agenda in order to make the multilateral trading system more balanced and able to offer benefits not only to LDCs but to all developing countries. That is why Minister Simba of Tanzania has recently suggested that what we need to do is to adopt a Work Programme in Doha which could be described as a “Development Agenda” and which will give due priority to issues of concern to LDCs and other developing countries in the WTO.
We do recognize that we need to have a Work Programme for negotiations in order to change the status quo in the multilateral trading system, for clearly, the status quo is not good enough to the majority of us and more so to the Least Developed Countries. We need to change and improve the system, but clearly such changes must be aimed at reducing if not totally eliminating the imbalances and iniquities that exist and not to make them more entrenched and worse. But as we have stressed on many occasions, such Work Programme must be manageable taking into account the limited capacity for LDCs to negotiate on a broad agenda with new issues and to implement new commitments, and also taking into account the need to give priority to the concerns of LDCs and other developing countries so as to eliminate the imbalances and iniquities that exist in the multilateral trading system as it now exists.
Paragraphs 36-42 of the Draft text is clearly suggesting a broad based programme of negotiations and with the inclusion of a number of new issues as identified in previous paragraphs of the Chairmans Draft and to us this creates major difficulties. What we are proposing instead is to have a Development Agenda which would include the following elements:
· effective capacity building to address supply side constraints of LDCs and other developing countries,
· satisfactorily addressing the wide range of implementation issues;
· operationalising the special and differential treatment provisions and making them binding;
· ensuring trade policy flexibility to accommodate the interests of LDCs and other developing countries;
· secure and predictable preferential market access for LDCs and other developing countries;
· taking full account of the interests of LDCs and other developing countries in the built-in agenda and mandated reviews;
· streamlined and fast track procedures and conditions for LDCs and developing countries seeking accession;
· and ensuring an inclusive and transparent negotiating process.
In the interest of having a balanced Work Programme, the Development Agenda may also include for consideration some subjects which are of major concern to our developed trading partners after sufficient time is given to understand the full implications of such issues to developing countries and provided the sequencing of the items of the work programme puts priority to the issues of concern to the LDCs and other developing countries. This may imply that for the next two years until the 5th Ministerial Conference the issues of major concern to developing countries as enumerated above be fully addressed together with issues under mandated negotiations and Reviews, and thereafter issues of greater concern to the major trading partners could be addressed in a time frame that takes into account appropriate sequencing of priorities of least developed and other developing countries. The advantage of this kind of arrangement, the details of which can be discussed, is that it will be possible for the LDCs and other developing countries to participate fully in the negotiations which do not take too many new issues at the same time, and also sufficient time will have been given to developing countries to have greater understanding of the new issues that are of interest to the developed countries.
When the proposal was made in the informal Ministerial Meeting in Singapore that the future multilateral trade negotiations be called “Development Agenda”, it was generally accepted. However, it need to be emphasized again that it is not a mere name that matters; it is the substance and the content as elaborated above that matters and worth the name of a Development Agenda. Since the entire international trading community accepts the centrality of development in the multilateral trading system, we believe it is timely for the Ministers in Doha to agree on a Development Agenda not as an instrument to justify incorporating more iniquities, but as a fundamentally new Work Programme engendering a more equitable and development-oriented multilateral trading system that will bring benefits to all WTO members.
I thank you.