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Norway worried about WTO inability to fulfill Bali promise

Last updated: 28.07.2014 // Norway's Ambassador to the WTO expressed grave concerns regarding the seeming inability to follow up on the agreements reached at Bali in December 2013. In his statement at the General Council 25 July Ambassador Neple underlined that it is not possible to reopen one of the Bali decisions without unravelling the entire package.

Norway's statement at the General Council 25 July:

Mr Chairman,

As a staunch supporter of the WTO we are now extremely worried that we seem to be unable to follow up on the commitments we all undertook in Bali and therefore on the work of the TNC. We have therefore, together with a group of developed and developing member countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hong Kong China, Iceland, Korea, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Singapore, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam, issued a statement to express our concern about the consequences for the overall DDA if we fail to adopt the Protocol by the agreed timeline.

In the statement we stress that:

“The Bali Ministerial Conference was crucial for the WTO but it was only the first step in convincing the world that WTO Members could, after nearly 20 years, agree on and then implement outcomes in the multilateral trading system.

The package of decisions reached in Bali was finely balanced.  It reflected a consensus on the part of all WTO Members. It would not be possible to reopen one of those decisions without unravelling the entire package.  That package is central to concluding the Doha negotiations and, ultimately, to the negotiating function of the WTO.

This is why we and many other Members, recognising the benefits of WTO negotiations, have been reaffirming the need to implement what Members agreed in Bali, in the time-frame Members agreed in December 2013.

All WTO Members have committed to work constructively on all elements of the Bali package.  In our view that commitment would not survive a decision to step away from any element of the package approved by Ministers in Bali, such as the adoption of the Protocol relating to the TFA.

A decision to step away would be in no one’s interest. It would seriously undermine the ability of the WTO to deliver for the future.  In practice, it would also block the new capacity building initiatives to assist WTO Members implement the TFA. The new economic growth and jobs that are expected to flow from the implementation of the TFA would not become a reality. It would fundamentally undermine the prospects for progress on the post-Bali work program for the Doha negotiations and on the other decisions that Ministers took in Bali.

Against this background, we believe all Members must redouble their efforts to find a way forward in Geneva to adopt by 31 July 2014 the Protocol relating to the TFA, as agreed in Bali.  Doing so will allow us to press ahead with the other elements of the Bali package, and put Members back on track to concluding the Doha negotiations.”

Putting on my Norwegian hat:  Norway remains committed to this work and we are happy that the vast majority of members who have taken the floor today, confirm that they too remain committed to the WTO and the post-Bali work and that they are willing to go ahead to prepare the work program by the end of this year.

I would also like to support the comments made by my Jamaican colleague.  This is a member driven organisation and we bear a collective responsibility for completing the work assigned to us by our Ministers. Our work must be proponent led and we should keep an open mind, be creative and engage in good faith in discussions on issues of importance to all members.

 


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