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> Supachai Panitchpakdi's speeches
> Speech by President
Paul Kagame of Rwanda
Honourable President Kagame,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured, touched and encouraged to join you today here in Kigali
amidst all the efforts which are taking place to regenerate a society
and a nation. May success attend all Rwanda's efforts, against an
immediate past of so much tragedy and despair, to regenerate hope for
I am here today to talk to you about another form of regeneration. Not
against such a dramatic background. But, still, in a venture which also
offers hope and opportunity, which may in the end have far reaching
consequences for this country and this continent. I am here today to
report to you about the regeneration of the WTO's Doha Development
The outcome of this meeting will, I believe, be pivotal in determining
whether the Doha Development Agenda will take a substantial step forward
by the end of July, or whether it will be consigned to the backburner
for the rest of this year and probably much of next year as well.
African countries have a big stake in these negotiations and in building
a stronger multilateral trading system. You do stand to gain. There is a
strong and growing resolve from many quarters of the WTO Membership to
advance the negotiations in a concrete way by the middle of this year.
This is the time to seize the gains and move forward.
As you know, just a few days ago African Ministers of Finance, Planning
and Economic Development met in Kampala. At their meeting, the Ministers
demonstrated a positive and constructive spirit which has been
characteristic of the various meetings of African Trade Ministers held,
since the beginning of this year, in Cairo, Mombassa, Cotonou and Abuja,
and most recently at the LDC Ministerial in Dakar. These meetings have
been very helpful to regenerating the DDA. The meeting at Kampala
continued this positive trend with Ministers showing flexibility in key
areas and encouraging WTO Members to work towards the objective of fully
restoring the momentum to the negotiations by July, through the adoption
of meaningful frameworks in agriculture, non-agricultural market access
and other relevant areas.
These general expressions of commitment to the DDA now need to be
translated into more specific potential compromises and flexibilities. I
very much hope that this African Union meeting in Kigali will contribute
towards the efforts that are now being made by all participants to put
the July package together.
By our July General Council meeting we need to have achieved frameworks
for modalities on agriculture and non-agricultural market access; and we
also need to have reached agreement on the treatment of the cotton
initiative and the so-called “Singapore” subjects. These were among the
most difficult areas of the negotiations Ministers faced at our 2003
Ministerial Conference in Cancún — where positions remained intractable
and far apart. It is clear that, without movement on these issues, there
will be no movement at all. We still have to overcome this hurdle so we
can make substantial progress across the whole of the Doha Work
Development concerns — including special and differential treatment —
are an integral part of the negotiations on agriculture,
non-agricultural market access, cotton and the Singapore issues. No one
questions that these concerns must be appropriately reflected in the
July package. There is also certainly a growing body of opinion among
the WTO Membership that favours giving prominence in July to our mandate
to make existing special and differential treatment more precise,
effective and operational.
The frameworks for modalities in agriculture and non-agricultural market
access must be consistent with their respective mandates as set out in
the Doha Ministerial Declaration. The objective, however, is not to
specify all the details, in particular the figures for reduction
commitments. These will be negotiated later, after July. We should
resist any temptation to be over-ambitious at this stage by trying to
pre-empt or pre-determine the final outcome. Restraint and some faith
are needed if we want to succeed at this stage. After all, the Doha
mandate will still be there and it is against that yardstick that
eventually you will all have the chance to judge the end result before
agreeing to it.
The agriculture negotiations comprise the three pillars of domestic
support, market access and export competition, plus a number of
cross-cutting issues which include special and differential treatment.
All these elements will need to be addressed in the framework in a way
all Members find acceptable. The market access pillar is clearly the
most difficult and controversial of the three pillars. Domestic support
and export competition now seem less difficult to resolve, although
important political decisions remain. The recent letter from European
Commissioners Lamy and Fischler to WTO Ministers represented a very
significant shift in the EU's position on export subsidies in
agriculture. I know that export subsidies are of great concern to you. I
am sure you see these recent moves, as I do, as an extremely positive
development — one that deserves some reciprocal response from the wider
Membership, in an equally timely fashion.
On non-agricultural market access more effort has to be focused on
achieving in the July framework text an acceptable trade-off between the
level of ambition in tariff reductions and flexibilities. This is where
a greater degree of convergence will be required. On Non Tariff
Barriers, there is a general feeling that now is the time to push for
real progress on this subject.
It is already clear from the negotiations so far, particularly in
agriculture and non-agricultural market access, that WTO Members are
ready to accommodate the different capacities of developing countries.
There is increased understanding that we should not overload the weaker
and more vulnerable Members. As I mentioned at the recent LDC meeting in
Senegal, the framework text on Agriculture at Cancún already indicated
that LDCs — of which the majority are African nations — should be exempt
from commitments to reduce tariffs and that account should be taken of
preferential access which developing countries enjoyed in other markets.
Furthermore the framework text on non-agricultural market access
indicated that LDCs should not be required to apply the formula
reduction to their tariffs or take part in any sectoral approach.
Moreover, recent signals from major players have also given an
indication of their relatively modest levels of expectation from the
smaller and poorer developing countries. We now need a constructive
response from Africa in these two areas, a response which will
strengthen the sense of convergence for a July package.
On the Cotton initiative, as you are aware, the greater part of the WTO
Membership would like to see this important issue dealt with as part of
the agriculture negotiations. At the same time, proponent countries are
concerned that cotton might get lost within the broader agriculture
negotiations. I believe it is entirely conceivable that we can find a
way of reconciling these two positions and finding an appropriate place
for cotton within agriculture. If, in July, we can achieve substantial
movement in the agriculture negotiations, then we would see the cotton
initiative boarding a train that is moving with considerable momentum in
the right direction. I would therefore urge you to work with your
trading partners to find some compromise language that could serve as
the basis of agreement on cotton in July. I was encouraged to find among
LDC Ministers in Dakar an openness — indeed an appetite — to explore
this avenue. Let me also recall that at Kampala, African Ministers of
Finance, Planning and Economic Development reaffirmed this openness by
urging the elimination of cotton subsidies within the framework of the
agricultural negotiations. I hope you will consider providing yourselves
with the same flexibility here.
In the meantime, follow-up activities to the WTO Cotton Workshop in
Benin are underway. Selected development agencies, the EU and the US
will be meeting soon to discuss how to implement the outcomes of the
workshop, in coordination with a representative from the African cotton
producing countries. Bilateral contacts between the cotton producing
countries and the EU and US have also been established.
On the four Singapore issues, we have seen some encouraging
developments. The European Union — one of the main proponents of all
four of these issues — has substantially modified its position. It is
now clear in Geneva that the emerging consensus combines a decision to
negotiate — with appropriate special and differential treatment — on
trade facilitation, and an agreement to keep the other three issues in
the WTO's work programme but clearly outside the DDA negotiations. This
compromise would involve a major move by the proponents of the Singapore
issues towards the developing countries, which have had their doubts
about them. It is surely a move which deserves a constructive response
from Africa. Flexibility was shown by LDC Ministers in taking this into
consideration during their meeting in Senegal. I hope that similar
flexibility will also emerge from this meeting.
A successful agreement on these elements in July would be the trigger we
need to get the DDA as a whole back on track. The other, highly
important elements of the DDA Work Programme have not been forgotten,
nor their importance diminished. The July deadline is not — and I repeat
again — is not, the end of the negotiations or indeed of the WTO's work
programme more generally.
As I said from the outset, this meeting may be pivotal in determining
the short and medium term future of the DDA. It comes at a time when
other developed, developing and least-developed WTO Members have
indicated their willingness to be flexible in key areas in order to make
the July package a success. It also comes before a number of other high
level meetings — in Guyana, Chile, Brazil and Mauritius — where the DDA
will be further discussed. It has the potential to build upon the
flexibilities already put on the table and to increase the pressure on
others meeting later to show flexibility too.
This meeting is also timely because we now have less than nine weeks
before the July General Council meeting. Your negotiators in Geneva need
your overall direction to help them hammer out the technical details.
Time is definitely of the essence. The earlier that we can develop
greater specificity on the frameworks, the greater the chance there will
be no last-minute responses.
I know you all have invested a great deal of personal time and effort
into the DDA and this must not be time wasted. Since the beginning of
this year I have met with African Trade Ministers in Cairo, Mombassa,
Cotonou, Abuja, Dakar and Paris. From my contacts with you I am left
with no doubt of your general commitment to advancing the negotiations.
I urge you now to focus your discussions on how you can build on the
good work which has been done in Geneva and elsewhere in the past few
weeks and months. Now is the time to show flexibility and to build
bridges. I appeal to you to ensure that your Declaration from this
meeting is one which increases the sense of convergence; which
acknowledges the flexibility others are showing and reacts positively to
it; and which arms your negotiators in Geneva with mandates which will
enable them to reach deals acceptable to all in July.
Let me also say that we fully realise the need to build institutional
and human capacity on multilateral trade issues in Africa. In this
regard, the DDA has in fact given a boost to WTO’s technical assistance
and training for Africa. Africa receives the most WTO-related technical
assistance activities, in comparison with any other region in the world.
In 2003, Africa received about one third of all technical assistance and
training activities delivered by the WTO. Between 2000 and 2003,
technical assistance activities for Africa grew by about 150 per cent.
WTO cannot, however, handle the job of capacity building on its own. For
instance, it is not within the mandate, resources or expertise of the
WTO to build factories, roads, ports and other infrastructure so vital
for trade. What we need to do and have been doing, in this regard, is to
develop a coherent strategy with development agencies and bilateral
donors to ensure that resources are allocated to tackling the
supply-side constraints that are preventing African countries from fully
utilising market access opportunities.
We have also made it a priority to advocate for the mainstreaming of
trade into overall poverty reduction strategies and programmes. I should
also add that through our coherence activities with the World Bank and
the International Monetary Fund we have managed to secure technical and
financial assistance to support trade liberalisation and trade policy
reform undertaken by African countries, and also to support
trade-related capacity building. Just a few weeks ago, the IMF announced
at our General Council meeting the new Trade Integration Mechanism. It
is anticipated that about $1.5 billion will be made available under the
TIM, which will help finance adjustment costs out of multilateral
liberalization by your trading partners, notably the ending of MFA
quotas, loss of trade preferences and increased food costs.
In conclusion and returning to my original theme, let us together seize
this historic opportunity in the coming days and weeks to regenerate the
Doha Development Agenda. In so doing, we can send a message of hope for
Africa and the world. Our July agreements will certainly not be the end
of the Round. But, with your goodwill and that of Ministers around the
world, July this year can mark the beginning of the end successful of