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‘We are not where we might have hoped to be at this point’ UK-WTO

  • Delivered by the UK on 14 February 2024 at the World Trade Organization General Council.

ENGLAND /SWITZERLAND – Clearly we are not where we might have hoped to be at this point. So our job in the next ten days is two-fold. Firstly, turning this goodwill into action. And secondly, preparing our ministers to come to Abu Dhabi and make decision.

We need to all focus on building up a set of outcomes for our ministers – not be putting up artificial barriers. People will be looking to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to see what it can deliver and there does remain time to get some stuff done.

For example, there is an opportunity for a good outcome on development. We will celebrate two accessions.

A decision on small vulnerable economies. We have least developed countries graduation one and we are confident we can deliver something on part two, where we see a genuine constructive approach from members.

Similarly, we have heard [today] the importance of e-commerce. We thank the facilitator for her work. It is clear that the vast majority of members want the extension of the moratorium. With 130 members signed on to renewing the moratorium, we should recognise the shared strength of feeling on this across the organisation and get it done.

On TRIPS we want to congratulate TRIPS chair for her guidance in reaching a fair and accurate report.

Turning to some of the other files, we all hope for something on fish. We thank the chair for his report. We are fully behind him and he has our full confidence.

On agriculture, we support the chair’s considerable efforts. We’re willing to keep trying but we need to think seriously about what to reasonably put to ministers in Abu Dhabi and what will set us up for a successful MC14.

The text needs to be streamlined. That can’t mean just repeating old mandates, but agreeing reasonable, balanced direction that gives something to everyone and has a chance of successful outcomes.

On Dispute Settlement (DS) reform, the UK expresses its sincere thanks to Mr Molina for his report and his tireless efforts. We should use MC13 to recognise the progress Members have made and redouble our collective commitment to a full resolution on DS reform. We should use the consolidated text as a basis for further discussions. The UK would like to see a continuation of the informal process, facilitated by Molina, to continue to transition to a formal process.

And on the outcome document, the UK encourages all members to get behind this. A lot was said here about no Christmas trees. But it’s hard not to hear jingle bells ringing in our ears – there’s a lot of baubles.

But the chair has done a brilliant job of whipping this into shape and when you step back, we do actually have a document that we can finalise this week. To do this, members will need to show flexibility and work together.

Those members that have done this are landing their paragraphs. We have had some really good engagement and we want to commend those members for their efforts. So it is unfortunate that areas remain where members don’t seem as willing to listen to the views of others.

So chair, to conclude, we stand ready to play our part in a successful MC13. To borrow a phrase used by others today: you will find the UK in problem-solving mode.

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