PARIS, 3rd June, 2016 (WAM) – Ministers from around 30 WTO members participating in an informal meeting in the margins of the OECD meetings in Paris have supported calls for an intensification of discussions aimed at identifying areas where agreement might be reached in 2017 when the organization holds its 11th Ministerial Conference.
In assessing the state of WTO negotiations after the successful outcome at the 10th Ministerial Conference held last year in Nairobi, the participants heard from WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo that interaction among members has been constructive in discussing the way forward but that negotiators now needed to move from a period of reflection to one of action.
“The period of reflection was valuable and many good ideas have been explored and tested. But we must now move to the next stage where governments make concrete proposals on what they would like to see in terms of outcomes at the 11th Ministerial Conference and beyond,” said Azevedo.
He urged ministers to be engaged and to provide political support to the negotiating process.
“Ministers need to be involved directly or agreements will not be reached. You need to meet often, be engaged and be active,” he said.
The discussion also saw support for the rapid implementation of agreements reached in Nairobi and at the 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement and on agriculture issues. They also discussed the need to bridge long-standing differences in agriculture, including trade in cotton, industrial goods, trade in services and WTO rules.
In seeking to advance work, there was also a strong view from a number of the ministers that new thinking would be required and there was a willingness to intensify their own involvement in the discussions to help facilitate this process.
Many also supported discussing issues such as digital trade, enhancing the participation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the trading system and services facilitation.