At the meeting of the WTO General Council on 4 May Norway’s ambassador Elin Østebø Johansen made the following observations in the debate following the report of the Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee:
· Welcome to new colleagues
· Thank the DG for his report.
· The March stocktaking confirmed what we have known for some time
The bad news was that not much has happened over the past year.
The good news was that for the first time there was a common acknowledgement of the need for a horizontal process as the final stage of the negotiations
· What has happened since the stocktaking – multilaterally , not much.
There are several initiatives and work done on different bits and pieces, in various configurations as part of the cocktail approach.
· Furthermore, there was broad agreement at the stocktaking that we need to build on what we have.
But what does this actually mean?
1. Take the 2008-text, fill the relatively few wholes within the established balance and call victory. Sound easy – but is it?
2. Appreciate that the balance was not exactly there in July 2010, dare to look into what the balance would be in 2010. And negotiate whatever remains. Not an easy task, with substantial danger of losses and breakdown.
3. Stick to our positions and wait it out – not very constructive and not what we are paid for
4. Call it a day and look for mini-packages – maybe the most realistic solution, but we are not there yet.
· Therefore, we welcome that The DG will start his own consultations and that he intends to carry out reviews more frequently. While we let a hundred flowers blossom we would also be in need of some structure here in Geneva.
· Many have mentioned ministerial and political involvement. Hopefully, G20 state leaders refrain from setting new deadlines. Rather, I would like them to start to remind themselves and others of the importance of the Multilateral Trading System and its role in ensuring economic growth, prosperity and development over the past 60 years.
As well as the stabilizing role of the rule-based multilateral trading system during the financial crises. I would wish for them to emphasis that the main reason for and urgency in finding a way out of the difficult situation the DDA finds itself in at present is to ensure a stronger – not weaker WTO.