Azevêdo calls LDCs to clearly define their priorities for post-Nairobi
The LDC group at the WTO organised a conference in Montreux, Switzerland from 17 to 19 April to discuss the results of the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya. The event also aimed to identify potential steps to promote LDC interests in a post-Nairobi context.
During the last WTO ministerial conference held last December in Nairobi, members had agreed on a number of outcomes concerning issues specific to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), such as access to markets in the cotton sector, the extension of the initial duration for the exemption on services and certain provisions related to preferential rules of origin. Even though these elements constitute advances for LDCs, many observers noted that other key issues for the group are still outstanding.
Speaking at the event during a session titled “Overview of Nairobi outcomes for LDCs and the path forward to MC11,” the Director General of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo reiterated the importance of addressing the needs of LDCs.
“Advancing the interests of LDCs is a priority for me personally. It is also an institutional priority for the WTO,” he declared.
DG Azevêdo also called the LDC group to play an active role in the coming months, in clearly defining and communicating their ideas and positions on future negotiations. In such a crucial period, he stated that all members have to be committed in order to advance the work done by the multilateral trade organisation.
“Everyone should be doing two things: first, offering their views about what our priorities should be and, second, making suggestions about how to move these priorities forward, “said Azevêdo during his speech at the event.
Regarding outstanding issues of the Doha Round, the Director General invited LDCs to identify, in consultation with the chairs of the negotiation groups, complications that impede the progress of these negotiations. For a second time, it will be necessary to think creatively about ways to overcome these challenges, deliberated Azevêdo.
“We need to bring new ideas to the table if we are going to find solutions,” he said.
Finally, Azevêdo tackled the topic of “new issues” following the wish of certain WTO members to address issues not listed on the Doha Round Agenda. He noted that some questions had to be discussed by a wide range of members, including some LDCs. “So, again, I would encourage you to consider which issues are most important to you and to make your voices heard in this conversation,” he declared.
This article first appeared in Passerelles, 19 April 2016.