WTO DG Sees Positive Changes, More Engagement; Would Consider A Second Term 27/07/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo today said he would consider a second mandate at the head of the organisation. He also described a positive momentum in the organisation in the first semester of 2016, after two successful ministerial conferences, with members coming up with new ideas. About Brexit, potential scenarios are being explored but it seems a lot of renegotiations might be on the United Kingdom’s plate. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo Without being overly optimistic about the outcome of the new ideas coming from member states, Azevêdo said at a press briefing today following the morning session of the WTO General Council that the worst for the organisation would be the absence of new proposals. To cut short on ongoing speculation, Azevêdo said that although the formal process for the election of the next WTO director general has not started, he would make himself available “if members feel this is helpful.” His decision is expected to be formalised at the next General Council in October, he said. On the momentum, Azevêdo said there are very positive signs in Geneva, after two successful WTO ministerial meetings, which called unprecedented. He underlined the fact that 87 countries have now ratified the 2013 Trade Facilitation Agreement, and “more are coming day by day,” he said. In the context of a weak growth in the global economy, the WTO has a very important role to play, and member states are increasing their engagement on the international scene and in Geneva, with a renewed interest in the WTO, he said. Most core issues are still on the table but members are providing new ideas, he said. On agriculture alone, seven different papers have been submitted, with creative ideas. In services there are constructive discussions, but in non-agricultural market access, there is less progress. There is still a long way to go, but it is encouraging that core issues are still the subject of intense conversations among members, he said. Members also are expressing interest in new topics of discussion, he said, such as fishery subsidies, small and medium-sized enterprises, e-commerce, investment facilitation, services facilitation, private standards, and non-tariff barriers. Members would also like to look into harmonising regulations developed by bilateral and regional trade agreements under the framework of the WTO, he said. However, he said he asked WTO members to move towards a more concrete and proposal-driven process. While it is important to know what areas members want to work on, there is the need to know the specifics. Members are responding, he said, and the second semester of 2016 should bring more specificity. On 25 July, Azevêdo called WTO members to come up with proposals for future negotiations, and in particular in the context of the next WTO Ministerial Conference in 2017, according to a WTO release. Next Ministerial WTO has received two bids to host the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, he said: Argentina and Uruguay. This is a vote of confidence in the work of WTO, he said. For the moment there are no other candidates, he said, adding that soon after the summer break, consultations would start between members. Impact of Brexit Answering a question on the impact of Brexit, Azevêdo said there is a lot of uncertainty and members are trying to understand the potential consequences of the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Members are exploring potential scenarios, he said, as “We have no precedent with this.” If and when Brexit happens, he said, “we would have a WTO member without a schedule of commitments.” Members have contracts with each other, so commitments might have to be negotiated again with everybody else, he said, adding that nobody really knows what will happen. Image Credits: Catherine Saez Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WTO DG Sees Positive Changes, More Engagement; Would Consider A Second Term" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.