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Trade Ministers Long Night Of Negotiations 13/11


Ministers head for long night of negotiations

As the end of the Fourth Ministerial Conference approached on 13 November, ministers embarked on a final evening of consultations on the latest versions of the draft declarations and decisions.

UPDATE 23:30 Qatar time: The chairman reported at the 23:00 meeting that consultations had been taking place, good progress had been made, but it has been very difficult to resolve remaining differences. He said he hoped to have revised drafts in as short a time as possible, and that he would reconvene the informal meeting of heads of delegation. He said he could not say when this would take place.

Earlier today

Heads of delegations met informally from 14:45 Qatar time (11:45 GMT) to 17:30 to discuss the latest drafts which conference chairman, Qatari Finance, Economy and Trade Minister Youssef Hussain Kamal, had circulated in the morning (see below).

Minister Kamal, said he would reconvene the heads of delegations at 23:00 “at the latest”. In the meantime, he and the “friends of the chair” (see explanation in 10 November summary) would continue consultations in various formats.

The chairman said the drafts had been carefully written, based on lengthy consultations, and attempt to reflect the views of all 142 members. They are only intended to launch a work programme — which includes negotiations — not to describe the outcome, he said. And because they are attempts at compromise, they cannot offer any delegation everything it wanted.

The heads of delegations meetings guarantee the entire process includes all member governments and is transparent, he said.

Over 50 delegations spoke, some on behalf of groups of countries. They commented on a range of subjects, including agriculture, market access for non-agricultural products, trade and investment, trade and competition policy, trade facilitation, transparency in government procurement, developing countries’ issues, and textiles.

Several delegations welcomed the near-agreement on the draft declaration on intellectual property and health, although a few delegations commented on some key words in the text.

In the morning

Earlier, shortly after 11:00 Qatar time (8:00 GMT) 13 November, ministers received the latest drafts of the ministerial declarations and decisions in the first informal Heads of Delegation meeting of the day. This followed continuing consultations through the night.

Minister Kamal said all delegations had had an opportunity to participate in the consultations on the new drafts. Director-General Mike Moore outlined key points of the drafts. He said the draft on intellectual property and health is close to agreement but some problems remain on some other issues.

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