Pascal Lamy has indicated that the WTO’s December ministerial meeting ought to focus on non-Doha issues, given how badly the negotiations are going.
We started this meeting on a sombre note. I do not think the conclusion looks much better. What we are seeing today is the paralysis in the negotiating function of the WTO, whether it is on market access or on the rule- making. What we are facing is the inability of the WTO to adapt and adjust to emerging global trade priorities, those you cannot solve through bilateral deals.
This risks overshadowing the achievements in other parts of the WTO functions, such as monitoring, surveillance, dispute settlement or even Aid for Trade, on which I will report fully tomorrow. There is, therefore, an urgent need to develop a shared diagnosis over the current impasse and what went wrong as a means to prepare a discussion over possible solutions as well as over emerging issues.
I would urge you to use the summer break to reflect and come prepared to fully engage in an “adult conversation” over “what next”.
It has bothered me that WTO rules rely heavily on the categories of least developed, developing, and developed but leave it to the countries themselves to announce which category they belong to. Wouldn’t negotiations be more effective if the WTO defined the categories and factored in some version of the amount or global portion of a nation’s global trade?