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WTO DOHA: Summary Of 11 November

DOHA WTO MINISTERIAL 2001: SUMMARY OF 11 NOVEMBER 2001

China to join on 11 December, Chinese Taipei’s membership also approved

China has notified the WTO that it has ratified its membership and will now become a full member, the WTO’s 143rd, on 11 December 2001. It deposited its instrument of ratification with WTO Director-General Mike Moore immediately after signing the membership agreement on 11 November.


China’s signing ceremony, in turn, immediately followed ministers’ formal approval of the membership of Chinese Taipei.
The Chinese membership agreement runs to 1,500 pages, and weighs 13 kilograms.

These formalities took place towards the end of a day when ministers continued the nitty-gritty task of striving for agreement on two draft declarations. Discussions continued in the full meeting of heads of delegations, and in consultations with the “Friends of the Chair” assigned to work on specific subjects. (See yesterday’s summary)

Reporting back

In the afternoon the chairman, Qatari Finance, Economy and Trade Minister Youssef Hussain Kamal, reconvened the heads of delegation with the six Friends of the Chair reporting on their consultations.

All six said they had held consultations open to all delegations and had also meet with delegations individually and in small groups. None of the six said that agreement on the area was at hand, but all said they could report some progress. They then announced that they would hold consultations open to all delegations this evening.

Implementation — Minister Pascal Couchpin of Switzerland said some progress had been made on some subsidy questions but that others remain difficult. On textiles and customs valuation, he said, some difference remain to be resolved.

Agriculture — Minister George Yeo of Singapore said the current text in its present form represents “a house of cards” that could collapse if one card moves only slightly. While a large number of delegations said they could accept the text as it is, some developing countries said they wanted to see the text reflect their views more. Some countries continued to have problems with wording on export subsidies and non-trade concerns.

Rules — Minister Alec Erwin of South Africa reported that while member governments could accept the text on regional trade agreements, problems remain on the anti-dumping portion of the text.

Environment — Minsiter Heraldo Muñoz Valenzuela of Chile reported that some governments can accept the operational wording on the environment, others said they could not go any further and some others said it had to be strengthened.

“Singapore” issues — Minister Pierre Pettigrew of Canada reported that some developing countries continue to resist the idea of negotiating investment and competition. He said there were problems on the question of opting-in or opting-out of negotiations. Some delegations made some suggestions on how this may be addressed, he said. Moreover, due to the different nature of the issues, solutions to the problems of competition and investment may not be the same, he added

Intellectual property (TRIPS)/Public health/Access to medicines — Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista of Mexico reported that the key is to find a solution to paragraph four, which deals with the overall scope of the proposed declaration — whether it should cover public health as a whole or focus on specific problems such as pandemics. He said it is important to find a compromise between the two positions and that he has asked a group of countries on both sides of the issue to draft wording that they could agree on.

The conference chairperson said he will call another heads of delegation meeting for tomorrow morning at which the six would report on their further consultations.

Previous discussions

Earlier, the heads of delegation discussed TRIPS and health or access to medicines and other issues not covered by the six Friends of the Chair. The debate on TRIPS and health largely repeated previous positions although a few delegations tried to find a compromise on the paragraph dealing with the scope of the proposed declaration.

On the “other issues”, one group of developed countries stressed the importance of labour standards. They also favoured the WTO recognizing efforts undertaken on this subject in the International Labour Organization through the text. Several developing countries said that they could live with the existing text, but could not accept any changes. Several others said they wanted to delete references to the ILO. Some said they wanted all references to the issue deleted because it had been dealt with at the SMC.

A large number of developing countries said they wanted to see the WTO establish working groups on the issues of trade, debt and finance, and transfer of technology.

A number of countries raised the question of extending to other products the enhanced level of protection currently given to geographical indications of wines and spirits. They said they would like to see negotiations on this. Several other countries, however, said they were not prepared to assume new obligations in this area.

There were a number of delegations which spoke on the question of market access for non-agricultural goods. Most said they could support it, but there was disagreement among the members on whether the text should refer to comprehensive cuts with no exclusions set in advance.

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