WTO General Council meeting


on behalf of Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary,
Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia

GENEVA - 8 March 2001 -

Mr. Chairman,

  1. Let me start with welcoming, on behalf of Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the initiative to convene this meeting. After having agreed upon the date and the venue for the Fourth Ministerial Conference, the time has indeed come to start thinking about the substance for that meeting
  2. Our countries supported Qatar as the venue for the meeting. They showed flexibility in establishing the date for the Conference, in order to have an early consensus on this issue and to have enough time to discuss the role and the substantive part of the Fourth Ministerial Conference.
  3. We consider that the time has come to agree, in Qatar, on a future work program. Such a work program should include in our view, the launching of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations as a means to provide benefits for all Members. In this respect, we share the views that, all WTO Members should find it essential to make the Doha Conference a successful one.
  4. Having in mind the limited period of time at our disposal, we consider that the best way for conducting the preparation process will be the in formal and informal sessions of the General Council specifically dedicated to this purpose, under the chairmanship of the present Chair, Mr. Harbinson. We also look forward to working closely with the DG throughout the preparatory process. Proceeding in such a manner, on one hand we will avoid a lengthy and time-consuming discussion on the election a chairman for a new body. On the other hand we will meet the requests of WTO Members regarding a process that needs to be transparent, inclusive and without add burden to delegations.
  5. Our countries hope that we will be able to rapidly decide upon the formal framework of the process and start an intensive and substantial preparation for Qatar Conference from mid April.
  6. As for the relationship between the preparatory process, the mandated negotiations and the implementation process, it is our view that these processes, for the time being, should be carried out in parallel exercises, independently of each other. At the same time, we must not lose momentum and we should take advantage to promote possible synergies that could exist between the three processes, which, from early summer, should all converge to one preparatory process.
  7. In what regards "some other possible elements of the WTO's future work program currently being carried out through informal gatherings", our countries are of the opinion that WTO Members or groups of Members should be able to propose elements of this program. In order to insure transparency and inclusiveness, as well as a meaningful deliberation before Qatar, such elements should be tabled, however, within a reasonable lapse of time and be discussed in an informal process, open to all interested Members.
  8. Our countries consider that a Ministerial Declaration will be the best way to allow Ministers to take decisions in Doha. The elements of the Ministerial Declaration should be agreed before the summer break to make it possible to finalize the draft Ministerial Declaration until the end of September. These should be our target dates, so as to allow the national authorities enough time to prepare their mandates for the Qatar Ministerial on the basis of an agreed "draft ministerial text".
  9. The countries on behalf of which I am speaking are still examining in capitals the possible form and content for a "Ministerial Declaration". However, we are trustful that, bearing in mind the experience gained in the Seattle Ministerial preparatory process all WTO Members will be ready to work together, showing flexibility on both form and content. The Ministerial Declaration can then be a balanced and fair text, acceptable to all WTO Members, which will allow consensus on a future program of work including the launching of a new multilateral trade negotiation round in Doha.

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