Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Mar13/02)
13 March 2013
Third World Network
General Council approves new slate of chairs for this year
Published in SUNS #7534 dated 27 February 2013
Geneva, 26 Feb (Kanaga Raja) -- The General Council of the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) on Monday took note of the consensus on the slate
of chairpersons for the various WTO bodies for this year, and elected
Ambassador Shahid Bashir of Pakistan as its new Chair, replacing Ambassador
Elin Johansen of Norway.
In the now-approved slate, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) will
be chaired by Ambassador Jonathan Fried of Canada, while the Trade
Policy Review Body (TPRB) will be chaired by Ambassador Joakim Reiter
(According to trade officials, Ambassadors Bashir, Fried and Reiter
- forming the so-called "troika"- will be overseeing the
selection process for the next Director-General, which will be entering
a new phase in about a month's time when they begin consultations
with members on which of the candidates they would like to see become
the next WTO head.)
Ambassador Moncef Baati of Tunisia will chair the Council for Trade
in Goods, while the Council for Trade in Services will be chaired
by Ambassador Abdolazeez Al-Otaibi of Saudi Arabia.
The TRIPS Council will be chaired by Ambassador Alfredo Suescum of
Panama, and the Committee on Trade and Development will be chaired
by Ambassador Marion Williams of Barbados.
The Committee on Balance-of-Payments Restrictions will be chaired
by Ambassador Paivi Kairamo of Finland, while the Committee on Budget,
Finance and Administration will be chaired by Mr. Michael Stone of
Ambassador Esteban Conejos of the Philippines will chair the Committee
on Trade and Environment, while the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements
will be chaired by Ambassador Francisco Lima Mena of El Salvador.
The Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance will be chaired by Ambassador
Faizel Ismail of South Africa, and the Working Group on Trade and
Transfer of Technology will be chaired by Ambassador Wafaa Bassim
According to trade officials, the chairs of the various negotiating
bodies established under the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), which
oversees the Doha Round of trade negotiations, remain unchanged.
The General Council also took up the report by the Chair of the TNC.
At an informal TNC meeting on 22 February, Director-General Pascal
Lamy, in his capacity as Chair of the TNC, had presented his report
Speaking again on Monday, Lamy said that at the informal TNC meeting
"we focused on the DDA [Doha Development Agenda] elements that
are being developed as part of the deliverables for Bali: namely,
Trade Facilitation, Agriculture and Development/LDC issues. The message
that we would all have taken away from that discussion is clear: ‘run
faster or you will not make it to the Bali finishing line'. So, I
would like to encourage you, like I did last week, to step up your
engagement, listen to each other and accelerate work on all fronts."
He noted that Aid for Trade is another area that has to be added to
the MC9 basket of deliverables. "Preparations for the 4th Global
Review of Aid for Trade on 8-10 July are advancing well. Our monitoring
exercise is harvesting a rich crop of unique information on how developing
countries, and in particular LDCs, are seeking to connect to value
chains, and on how donors are supporting this process."
Lamy said further: "Looking at other venues, and several delegations
touched on this at the TNC, there could also be space for a positive
outcome in other negotiating areas such as the ITA [Information Technology
Agreement], where technical discussions are taking place to expand
the product and member coverage of the Agreement. Or in Government
Procurement, where work is now focusing on bringing into effect the
In conclusion, he said that "we have the map and the timeline
to get to Bali. We all know that it will take hard work, honest negotiations
and a lot of goodwill to get there. With only around 20 weeks of work
between now and the summer break, we need acceleration across the
board in order to get there. At the TNC on April 11, we will have
the next opportunity to assess progress in the DDA - in individual
areas and horizontally and I call upon you to utilise the time between
now and then productively and with result-oriented minds."
According to trade officials, delegations that spoke at the informal
TNC meeting on 22 February had their statements put on record at the
General Council meeting (see separate article on the statements of
delegations at that informal meeting).
Members that spoke at the General Council on Monday following Lamy's
report included Mexico, Chile, Peru, Egypt, Indonesia, Barbados (for
Small and Vulnerable Economies), Hong Kong-China, Cuba, Ecuador and
According to trade officials, Egypt said that any early harvest that
comes out of the Bali process is part of the larger Single Undertaking.
It must not be used to pre-empt in any way the Single Undertaking.
Anything that is agreed in this early harvest must be agreed by a
multilateral consensus, and that any outcome in Bali must take into
account the importance of food security, the elimination of agricultural
export subsidies and other forms of distortions in export competition,
special and differential treatment (S&D), cotton and the LDC package,
In addition, Egypt said, there must be a clear roadmap for the post-Bali
process and that this must be a process that would be fully participatory,
inclusive and transparent.
Barbados (for the SVEs) said that it is ready to make a contribution
to the Bali package on the questions of trade facilitation, agriculture
and development, and urged members to reflect on what is achievable.
In addition to the Doha package, it said that it is important that
members realise that work in the regular committees is very important
and that a fully operating WTO is a safeguard for the SVEs in the
multilateral trading system.
On the post-Bali process, it stressed the need for a balanced package,
with full participation, inclusiveness and transparency.
Cuba pointed to a discouraging picture for Bali. It supported Egypt,
the ACP and SVEs. It noted that there was quite a lot of discussion
on trade facilitation but not enough on the agriculture proposals
put forward by the G-20 and G-33.
There is need for an outcome in Bali, but one that delivers for developing
countries. The Single Undertaking cannot be sidelined, it said, adding
that there must be plenty of attention paid to the implementation
issues, and we must have an outcome on Duty-Free Quota-Free (DFQF)
market access for LDCs and on cotton. It would be unacceptable if
we had an outcome where the LDC issues were not resolved.
Ecuador said that while trade facilitation is important, it must be
balanced. Right now, it is not sufficiently balanced, because the
Section II (pertaining to S&D and technical assistance and capacity
building) part of the discussion has not been fully fleshed out. It
highlighted the importance of S&D in the discussions, and that
the process from here to Bali be one with full participation, inclusiveness
Meanwhile, under the agenda item of Ukraine's GATT Article XXVIII
notification (modification of schedules) whereby it would like to
re-negotiate some 371 tariff lines, trade officials said that the
EU, Uruguay, the US, Switzerland, Canada, Egypt, Chile, Colombia,
Iceland, Singapore (on behalf of ASEAN), Turkey, Hong Kong-China,
Korea, Guatemala, Brazil, Japan, Paraguay, Mexico, China, Norway,
Australia, New Zealand, El Salvador, and Ecuador spoke on this issue.
Ukraine said that the WTO is a rules-based system and Article XXVIII
provides scope for modifying schedules. Only 3% of its harmonised
schedules was affected by this. It did not see how this was going
to be disruptive for the multilateral trading system.
Noting that it had been criticised for raising tariffs to a high level,
it asked how in fact could this be the case since it has not set those
Ukraine stated that its share of world trade is 0.45% and the share
of world imports affected by this measure is 0.0009%.
Questioning how this might be in any way a threat to the multilateral
trading system, it said that it is allowed under WTO rules to implement
Article XXVIII for legitimate policy purposes like any other WTO member.
According to trade officials, under "Other Business", India
expressed concern about the selection process for the next Director-General.
It's an unprecedented state of nine candidates that we have at the
moment, and that in the past we have followed a process whereby at
each subsequent phase, one of the candidates would drop out, it said.
This may not be possible this time around because we have so many
candidates and such a short timetable, it said further, adding that
this process should not in any way distract from the work on the preparations
for the Bali ministerial conference. +