Pascal Lamy European Commissioner for Trade Closing Press Conference Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference 4th WTO Ministerial Conference Doha, 14 November 2001
European Commission - SPEECH/01/538 14/11/2001
Other available languages: ES
European Commissioner for Trade
Closing Press Conference Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference
4th WTO Ministerial Conference
Doha, 14 November 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen, going into last night, I feared we were looking at a late night press conference. Well I was right in a way, but so late it ended up running into the following afternoon. It has been a long week, and a long, long night. But as you now know, after discussions that continued into this morning, we have now reached agreement on a Declaration that constitutes a extremely solid basis for a new set of WTO negotiations. Call it a Round, or whatever you like: it is a very significant and pleasing result.
To this we add three other major items of business: an excellent result on TRIPs and public health; resolution of the long-standing ACP waiver issue; and, of course, although it is now several long days past, we should not forget Chinese and Taiwanese accession to the WTO. On productivity alone, not bad…medieval it may be in its organisation; but it has been a hell of a good week for Mike Moore and a hell of a good week for the WTO.
I cannot resist pointing out that many in the press predicted disaster both for the WTO and the EU in these talks. It is always better to negotiate to a conclusion, rather than to jump to conclusions ! The EU kept it head, held its nerve and its unity and I believe this has paid dividends.
A quick word on our objectives coming into this conference. We sought :
Comprehensive trade liberalisation, not least to restore business confidence;
But not just a head long rush towards freer trade. We wanted legitimacy not just liberalisation and a strengthening of the rules-based trade system.
And most importantly, a Round which focuses on development. Not just the direct trade interests of developing countries, but sustainable development in the system.
These have been the EU goals since before Seattle WTO train was all but derailed. The tracks were damaged and the locomotive had broken down. Many doubted that it could be repaired. Well we've proved them wrong. The WTO is back on track and the train has left the station. We'll be travelling at speeds that take account of the diversity of the 142 passengers who 've climbed aboard and we're committed the single undertaking to pulling into the station together. I will spare you the details as we are distributing an analysis on the text.
In short, we have made major strides towards realising sustainable development; we have a proper balance between regulation and market access; and most of all, we have a negotiating equilibrium between systemic benefits to the WTO, EU interests, and the interests of developing countries.
Why have we succeeded ?
I think there are several reasons for this.
First, the timing and location of this Ministerial are hugely significant. September 11 served to focus all our minds on the need to send a strong political signal of confidence in the multilateral international system and the need to inject optimism into a gloomy economic landscape. I think it encouraged us all to look beyond our narrow horizons, and to think about the bigger picture.
Second, the people involved. Our Qatari hosts, and in particular the Emir of Qatar and Minister Kemal, together with Mike Moore, his team of Friends of the Chair and the WTO Secretariat have all worked tiressly to pull this off. Excellent organisation combined with skilful chairmanship combined to make today's success possible. Please also allow me to briefly thank everyone in the Commission's own team, superbly lead and marshalled by Peter Carl.
Thirdly, however, finding consensus is neither easy in the EU or the WTO. I have to say that we appear to have found a new mechanism, which is called the unity of the Member States. My ministerial colleagues have worked extremely hard to facilitate my task as their negotiator and I am also very grateful to Members of the European parliament and civil society who joined the EU delegation in Doha.
Even harder, of course, is WTO consensus. His Excellency Minister Kemal, Mike Moore; Stuart Harbinson and deserve enormous credit for their efforts over the last few months and few days. But Ministers had to tackle the last 20% of a tough and rocky road. And in this final 20%, we had to find ways of addressing residual developing country concerns to form consensus. Obviously we had to look after European interests; and did so, but developing countries were the difference in this negotiation.
As a result, the agenda caters very extensively throughout for the interests and concerns of developing countries : tariff peaks, export subsidies, and trade defence measures.
But let me single out two developments. Immediately important was the declaration on TRIPs and public health. It bears recalling that the Médecins sans Frontières campaign was launched only two years ago. To those who know the WTO, that is a blink of an eye, but we already have a landmark agreement which preserves the TRIPs agreement, but which clarifies helpfully the flexibilities of this agreement in such a way to provide greater confidence that developing countries will be able to provide access to medicines for all. I am very pleased that the EU was able to play a valuable broking role and help to bring this off.
Secondly, the EU has played its full part in hleping to pull together a valuable implementation package, which developing countries rightly made such a priority. They have forced this issue onto the agenda, and though you must ask them I am sure they have far exceeded their expectations.
Building the regulation agenda
Lastly, I personally attach great importance to the climate of ambition and mutual trust that has enabled the WTO to move beyond the study phase on environment, investment and competition, and into the more challenging waters of negotiations. But to those developing countries who have expressed their concerns about their capacity to take on such negotiations, let me reiterate the flexibility of the approach we take on these issues. We have agreed not to rush our fences, and for example will fully respect the right of those members who wish to opt in or out of the results of negotiations in areas such as these.
There is one area where I'm not happy: core labour standards. We have managed to get the WTO to recognise for the first time the importance of the social aspects of globalisation and the work of the International Labour Organisation but there was simply not time to get any more. It's been a long conference but I would gladly have spent more time to pursue this important objective.
Concluding, I came here with a clear mandate from the EU 15 and it is satisfying, as a negotiator, to be told by the Council and by our European Parliamentarians given in Doha, that we have satisfactorily negotiated a package consistent with that mandate.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, the WTO negotiating show is back on the road.
The floor is yours for questions.