Adapted from WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy’s statement:
On Agriculture, on templates and on the associated work on base data, Step 2 on drafts of actual proposed formats are being tabled and discussed in each of the three pillars. Moreover, Members are meeting bilaterally and in small groups to come to an agreed understanding of some parameters, including OTDS. Additional drafts are also in preparation and work on base data is progressing with the verification process.
On modalities, the Chair has continued his consultations. Members are also meeting on clarification of certain technical aspects of the modalities.
In NAMA, on NTBs, one concrete, positive change has been the movement into text-based negotiation through the creation of small drafting groups to undertake work in three areas: transparency, remanufactured goods and horizontal mechanism. The process of cleaning texts on the Horizontal Mechanism and Transparency is advancing. On remanufacturing, however, the small group is still facing serious challenges. Concerning other NTB areas such as textile labelling, conformity assessment and international standards, the discussions are still at a more and too general level.
Concerning tariffs, discussions are taking place. The sectoral proponents continue to organize meetings on their sectoral initiatives. However, it is clear that the kind of engagement we are seeing on the NTB side is still missing on tariffs. This needs to change if we are to get to the same place by Easter.
Regarding Services, in market access, the Special Session confirmed that the request/offer negotiations had to be focused and intensified and that the first cluster of 14 February will focus on Modes 3 and 4, and the ICT group of sectors. Of course, this would not be to the exclusion of any other sector or issue that Members wished to raise.
In domestic regulation, there was consensus for the Chair to prepare a revised text for March. There is a real opportunity to make progress here, provided that the result is not a bracket-laden text that serves only to solidify existing positions. In GATS rules focused on dedicated discussions on government procurement and subsidies. The Working Party is also preparing for a discussion on services statistics for the purpose of the discussion on Emergency Safeguard Measures.
In response to requests from several delegations, the Chair of the Special Session has proceeded to establish a small consultative group to advance work on the text of the proposed LDC waiver.
In the Rules area, in December, the Chair appointed three Friends of the Chair, who have been asked to consult on specific bracketed anti-dumping issues with an eye to developing convergence, bottom-up texts for consideration by the Group. These issues include product under consideration, material retardation and causation of injury. The Chair intends to appoint further Friends in the anti-dumping area, and to extend the process to horizontal subsidies. He is also considering naming contact groups on some of the most intractable anti-dumping and subsidy issues. In the area of fisheries subsidies, the Chair has appointed co-facilitators to work on technical aspects of fisheries management. The Group has also received five new proposals in this area, including substantial new proposals on both the scope of the disciplines and the nature of special and differential treatment.
On regional trade agreements, Members agreed to begin the review of the Transparency Mechanism for RTAs as required by the General Council Decision, with a view to making it permanent. Two proposals have been received from the United States and Ecuador and are to be discussed by the Group starting on 4 February. Other elements of the review include statements from the Chairs of the two implementing bodies: the CRTA and the CTD, and the Secretariat, indicating their experiences with the Mechanism thus far. Discussions on systemic issues which remain dependent on the submission of text-based proposals by Members are also to be taken up; in this regard, one new proposal from Bolivia has been received.
In the area of Trade facilitation, the newly established Facilitator-led process appears to be working well and has already produced results. Negotiations in 14 different groups led to streamlined language and a lower number of square brackets. There was a noticeable change in gear, delegations were focused and committed to cleaning-up the text. Delegations appreciate the bottom-up mode of operation and the balance in treatment of the two main pillars (TF measures and S&D) and equally value the fact that there was no overlap in meetings and full interpretation of all events which is an issue on which notably, the African Group has been insisting on.
As regards Trade and Environment, on Paragraph 31(i), some Members are working together to build on specific texts or revisit existing one. While a submission by the African Group on a roster of experts to assist developing countries with respect to specific trade obligations under multilateral environmental agreements gathered some support, further consultations will be held to refine the proposal. On Paragraph 31(ii), Members have started with text-based negotiations. Finally, on Paragraph 31(iii), a lot of work remains to be done to further define the “universe of environmental goods” and the related structure of the outcome, including modalities of treatment. Members have also recently expressed renewed interest for the topic of environmental services.
As regards the negotiations on the establishment of a multilateral system of notification and registration of geographical indications for wines and spirits, intensive drafting sessions have been taking place by a small group of experts drawn from co-sponsors of the different proposals, the “W/52 Group”, the “Joint Proposal Group”, and Hong Kong, China, with the results reported to an open-ended informal consultations.
On 27 January, the Chair circulated a paper on Notification and Registration, resulting from Member's own texts and the outcome of the drafting group. This represents the current state of play, with full attributions of different wording, following a concerted effort to reduce square brackets. This text is now “work in progress”. Wok will now continue on the elements of Legal Effects/Consequences of Registration and Participation.
On the Work Programme on Special and Differential Treatment, discussions have been taking place on the basis of the most recent revision of the Chair's non-paper on the Monitoring Mechanism. This work is being undertaken in small group informal consultations. A number of constructive textual proposals have emerged during the consultations.
On Dispute Settlement, an updated draft legal text was presented and discussed on sequencing, and points of convergence were identified with respect to possible solutions to post-retaliation. There has been more substantive engagement on effective compliance and time-savings.