Yesterday’s GC meeting focused heavily on Lamy’s report as Chair of the TNC (click here for the full report). Lamy reiterated his previously reported approach; that is, a pragmatic and realistic approach with small steps in the mature negotiations of the DDA. To this approach, there were two exceptions: TF and DSU, since both of them have detailed work plans that have been subject of ongoing work. Pascal also reported on his international meetings at the World Bank and the IMF, as well as the G20 meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He stated that the global economy faces a tough road ahead with trade growth forecast for 2012 expected at 4%, compared to the 6% average of the last 15 years, and a 5% last year. Lamy acknowledged that this sluggish growth is mainly due to the economy in developed countries, citing the EU especially, and warned that this forecast may turn south if trade protectionism increases. At the G20 meeting, one of the main topics of discussion was the global value chains and its impact in trade policy. He stated that now, more than ever, imports matter as much as exports, and therefore trade should interpreted and measured with a fresh approach. Lamy was clear in saying that this is not a new issues vs. old issues matter, but instead it is about having proper trade policies to ensure global value chains, especially in the industrial, agricultural and services sector. Pascal singled out TF as a potential win/win scenario for all Members, if the technical assistance and capacity building is provided.
On his report regarding the activities in the negotiating groups since February, Lamy provided a brief but substantive summary.
– On Agriculture, there was an open-ended meeting in March, where some key issues still remain unresolved. He stated that these issues need to be resolved before an agreement can be reached. On the work ahead, the Chair will continue consultations on possible technical work in order to determine which issues can be subject of an early harvest.
– On NAMA, consultations on some proposal under Wagon 1 will resume shortly, while proposals under Wagon 2 will be subject of consultations in order to determine the way ahead.
– On Services, the Enchilada meeting was held on late March. The majority of the Members recognized the need for different negotiating approaches in order to advance in the areas where progress can be achieved.
– On Rules, the Chair has been consulting bilaterally in order to determine the way forward, and Lamy mentioned the second Technical Group meeting of the year, held successfully last week.
– On TF, Lamy mentioned the latest draft consolidated text (Rev 12) and the continuation of the facilitator-led discussions on 3 topics, while in parallel tracks the negotiations in different formats on: customs cooperation, expedited shipments and publications.
– On TRIPS, Lamy saw no appetite for engagement in the GIs joint proposal group and stated that the Chair will continue consultations in order to determine the best way forward.
– On Trade and Environment, Lamy stated that consultations will be held in May in order to discuss the process forward.
– On DSB, Lamy mentioned that the Special Session has been active and the next sessions are scheduled for the week of May 7.
– On ITA, Pascal mentioned the 15th anniversary symposium scheduled for May 14-15 which will focus heavily on the industry and hopes that it will call attention to this agreement and serve as example of how to move forward and pragmatically open trade.
– Finally, Lamy mentioned that he will go ahead with the WTO panel on the future of trade under his own responsibility and the first meeting is scheduled for May 16. In the autumn, Members will have an opportunity to express their views in order to ensure the findings are relevant to today’s reality and Lamy expects to finalize the panel’s work in early 2013.
The next regular meeting of the GC is scheduled for 25-26 of July 2012.