Remarks by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on the Doha Development Agenda at the Third Working Session of the 8th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
“With this Ministerial Conference, it is clear that we are turning a page in our decade-long pursuit of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA).
“The severe challenges confronting the DDA are a matter of profound concern to all of us. We have all acknowledged our impasse, and we confront stark questions about when, and under what circumstances, success may come.
“It is critically important to acknowledge that Members have worked hard, and in good faith, in an effort to find ways forward. Through these efforts, in numerous configurations of Members, we’ve gained useful knowledge and insights.
“We’ve learned that the world of 2011 is a very different place than the world of 2001. The world trades differently, and World Trade Organization (WTO) Members occupy very different places in global trade than they did 10 years ago.
“We’ve also developed a much better understanding of the nature and size of the gaps that separate us. And it is crystal clear that those gaps exist not only in non-agricultural market access (NAMA), but indeed across the broad scope of the Doha agenda.
“While each of us might explain this situation differently, there is a wide understanding that we are at an impasse because of the strong divergence of views among the major players over what their respective contributions should be in all key areas.
“There is significant value in the honesty with which we are now assessing the DDA. The frank recognition that our current path is simply not leading in a fruitful direction is the only logical place to start if we are to find a better and more productive path for conducting negotiations within this institution.
“For we must find such a path. The negotiating function is a key pillar of the WTO, and we cannot allow it to atrophy. We need ways of producing meaningful, relevant, market-expanding agreements, and so we must fix the broken negotiating arm of this institution.
“We need to be creative, and focus on the core aspects of our substantive divides. Our tendency has been to frankly bind ourselves too tightly to structural or procedural mechanisms, even as we have proven to ourselves, time after time, that process alone cannot overcome substantive differences. What we really need is a bit of freedom and room to experiment with innovations and enable honest conversations that can help us work together more effectively as an organization.
“Meanwhile, Doha’s vision – of more open markets and improved trading opportunities in agriculture, goods, and services, as well as improved rules – remains as relevant to the development aspirations of all Members as it was in Doha 10 years ago.
“We have learned that achieving that vision is harder – in fact, much harder – than any of us had imagined. Our commitment, as the United States, is to bring our best ideas, our creativity, and our abiding commitment to the multilateral trading system to a collective search for credible, inclusive and innovative negotiating paths as we move forward. Thank you .”
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