February 16, 2003
We had a very constructive, very interactive discussion all through. I would just like to share with you my impressions of the outline of our discussions.
First and foremost, this was a meeting held at the initiative of Mr. Hiranuma, METI Minister and myself, by inviting Ministers from 20 or so members to discuss the major issues WTO is working on toward the 5th Ministerial to be held in Cancun, Mexico September. To be precise 22 Members including Japan and the WTO participated.
It was informal by nature, and was held in the belief that our exchanges of views will contribute to promote negotiations in Geneva. It was not a forum for taking any decisions, but to have ministers be engaged in issues to strengthen personal relationships and in the spirit of camaraderie, as we work toward the success of the Doha Round. We welcomed a number of new ministers who recently assumed responsibility for trade negotiations. We can reflect, but not represent, members not present here in Tokyo, and therefore agreed that we make efforts to let them know what happened in Tokyo.
We also had the benefit of Agricultural Ministers from some of the members. This made up a total of 32 Ministers.
In this context, I should add that without the meeting of this nature, we would not have been able to conduct such frank and in-depth exchange of views in agriculture or in TRIPS and public health at our level which is vital to move the process forward. We had an intensive discussion and I believe we have contributed to keeping and strengthening the momentum of the Round.
The discussion of the meeting centered especially on (1) market access-related issues including agriculture, and (2) how to incorporate "development" perspectives into the negotiations.
It was recalled that the multilateral trading system has contributed significantly to economic development. We confirmed our political will to conclude the Doha round not later than January 1, 2005. At the same time, our discussions reconfirmed that development-related issues are important, as reflected in the title "Doha Development Agenda."
Market access was stressed as the core of the negotiations. The first draft of modalities in agriculture and the consolidated overview of proposals in non-agricultural market access, both helped our discussion in this area.
We came to clearer perceptions regarding; (i) issues to be discussed in further depth for modalities to be established, or agreed upon, and (ii) aspects to be considered for gaps to be narrowed. This was very useful.
The first draft of modalities on agriculture in particular served as a good catalyst for us and it is expected to stimulate our discussions in Geneva. Overall resolve to arrive at the modalities on agriculture negotiations within the time-limit mandated at Doha is shared by the Ministers. Different views were expressed as to the levels of ambition or balance we should be seeking.
The importance of the other two issues (Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) and Services) in this area was confirmed with the political will to work towards the respective "deadlines."
As I said, this round is called the "Doha Development Agenda." The developing and the developed members alike stressed the need to mainstreaming the development dimension in the current round of negotiations.
As for the Special and Differential treatments which we call S & D, though disappointment was expressed that the work in Geneva was not completed by the deadline, our understanding was deepened for addressing the concerns of developing countries. Engagement at our level is important, and negotiators in Geneva will be encouraged to be more flexible for the process to move forward.
We confirmed that WTO's trade-related technical assistance, called TRTA, activities are smoothly carried out. At the same time, we confirmed that collaboration with other relevant agencies was in progress.
As chair, my understanding of the sense of this meeting, on the discussion of the issue of TRIPS and Public Health is as follows:
I must, as Chair, first underline the sense of urgency expressed, in particular by our African colleagues. With this sense of urgency, we had a constructive discussion on this issue. Ministers were engaged in a positive spirit. Recognizing the importance of the issue, we spent a good deal of time on it. I am of the impression that we all share the feeling that any solution cannot come without trust among all parties involved.
- We were able to deepen our mutual understanding at our level on the sensitivities involved.
- As stated in paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration, this issue is about how we can find a multilateral solution to difficulties faced by WTO members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in pharmaceutical sector in making effective use of compulsory licenses under the TRIPS agreement. I believe it is important that we remind ourselves of this mandate.
- I hope yesterday afternoon's meeting will contribute to further discussion in Geneva, and to a solution as soon as possible.
We confirmed that the four areas, namely, investment, competition, trade facilitation, and transparency in government procurement are important for the WTO. Some said they needed more time to study the implication because of their capacity constraints.
We recognized the necessity for more concrete discussions on what outcome to achieve on the road to Cancun, especially on the modalities of negotiations, as referred to in the Doha Declaration. In this regard, an idea to take the four issues individually on their own merits was also raised.
The WTO rules were discussed, and the discussion helped us further understand each other's views.
As for the rules on anti-dumping, we discussed clarification and strengthening of the discipline. Many expressed the view that we need to move quickly on this issue.
As for the agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures, the discussion touched upon whether to establish sector-specific disciplines.
Against the background of increasing number of FTAs and work being concluded, we also discussed the issue of clarifying the WTO disciplines applying to regional trade agreements.
We also discussed environment and dispute settlement understanding.
Our final session 'Road to Cancun', was now that we have up until September to prepare for the Cancun meeting. We saw agreement that we need to accelerate the process ahead of us for the success of the Cancun Ministerial Conference, with a view to reaching a single undertaking not later than Jan. 1, 2005.
It was recognized that our engagement is particularly important for working towards the deadlines, in March and in May, and for addressing adequately at Cancun the agenda agreed in the Doha Declaration.
That is the impression of the Chair on the meeting.
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