|BRUSSELS SESSION OF THE
PARLIAMENTARY CONFERENCE ON THE WTO
Brussels (Belgium), 24 - 26 November 2004
|Organised jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament|
The Parliamentary Conference on the WTO is a joint undertaking of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament aimed at strengthening democracy at the international level by bringing a parliamentary dimension to multilateral cooperation on trade issues. The Brussels session of the Conference took place at the European Parliament from 24 to 26 November 2004. The Brussels session followed up on the two highly successful sessions held in Geneva in February 2003 and Cancún in September 2003 (in conjunction with the fifth WTO Ministerial Conference).
The Brussels session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO provided members of parliament with an opportunity to examine recent developments in WTO, obtain first-hand information on the current state of multilateral trade negotiations and consider a possible parliamentary contribution to the revitalization of this process. The session was an occasion to exchange views and experiences with colleagues in other parliaments, interact with government officials directly involved in the process of trade negotiations, and engage in a dialogue with civil society representatives.
The agenda and programme of the session were established by the Conference Steering Committee at its meeting in Geneva on 6 and 7 September 2004 and can be downloaded from this page in PDF format together with other documents of the session.
The session was attended by some 470 delegates including members of parliment from nearly 80 countries (see List of Participants). At the end of its work, the Conference adopted a Declaration and approved the Rules of Procedure, to be applied as from the next session.
|Declaration HTML and PDF|
|Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO adopted on 26 November 2004 (PDF)|
|List of Participants (PDF)|
|Annotated agenda: HTML and PDF|
|Programme: HTML and PDF|
|Discussion paper on agenda item "Agriculture" (PDF)|
|Discussion paper on agenda item "Trade in serivces from a development perspective" (PDF)|
|Invitation letter (PDF)|
|Advance information letter (PDF)|
|Practical information note (PDF)|
|Registration form (PDF)|
|Hotel reservation form (PDF)|
|IPU PRESS RELEASES|
|The Parliamentary Conference on the WTO urges governments and parliaments to engage in a regular dialogue (26 November 2004)|
|IPU and European Parliament will hold a Parliamentary Conference on the WTO in Brussels (15 November 2004)|
|RELATED SITES AND DOCUMENTS|
|European Parliament (official Web site)|
|World Trade Organization (official Web site)|
| Resolution of the 110th IPU Assembly"Working towards an equitable environment for international commerce: the issues of trade in agricultural products and the access to basic medicines"|
|Cancún session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO|
|Geneva 2003 session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO|
|Final Declaration of the Parliamentary Meeting on the occasion of the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference (Doha, 11 November 2001)|
|Parliamentary Meeting on International Trade "For a free, just and equitable multilateral trading system: Providing a parliamentary dimension" organized by IPU (Geneva, 8-9 June 2001)|
Note: Documents in PDF format require Adobe Acrobat Reader
|1.||Adoption of the agenda|
|2.||Interactive panel discussion: The significance of the WTO General Council decision of 31 July 2004 for the future of the Doha Round|
|Following marathon negotiations, on 31 July 2004 the WTO General Council adopted a package of decisions providing a roadmap for moving forward the process started in Doha. The group of five (Australia, Brazil, European Union, India, United States of America) played an important role in this breakthrough, as did others including the WTO Director-General and the Chairman of the WTO General Council. By way of introduction, participants in the Parliamentary Conference will have an opportunity to listen to the views of top WTO negotiators on the future of the Doha Round and will be able to pose direct questions in this regard.
|3.||Debate on substantive themes:|
|The Brussels session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO is taking place when, notwithstanding renewed momentum in the negotiations, some important differences remain between the positions of WTO Members. Concentrated political will is required to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. Conference delegates are invited to focus, from a parliamentary perspective, on some of the key areas of current WTO negotiations.
|Agriculture is of critical importance to economic development and growth prospects of many developing countries and is equally essential for developed countries. This is why one of the major merits of the WTO General Council's decision of 31 July 2004 was the adoption of a framework for establishing negotiating modalities in agriculture. For the first time, WTO Members have agreed to abolish all forms of agricultural export subsidies by an end date to be determined, substantially reduce trade-distorting domestic support in agriculture, and expand market access for agricultural goods through significant reduction in tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Members have also undertaken to address "ambitiously, expeditiously and specifically" the issue of cotton subsidies. Conference delegates are invited to discuss how parliamentarians can contribute to the materialization of this compromise sketched in the 31 July 2004 decision, recognizing the development imperatives of developing countries.
|(b)||Trade in services from a development perspective|
|In many countries, including least developed ones, services play an important role in the domestic economy but generate only a fraction of export earnings. To advance the negotiations on trade in services in line with the Doha mandate, WTO Members have committed to achieve progressively higher levels of liberalization with no a priori exclusion of any service sector or mode of supply, while giving special attention to the interests of developing countries. Under this item, Conference delegates are invited to discuss how parliaments can facilitate progress in the services negotiations and to come up with specific recommendations in this regard.
|4.||Adoption of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO|
|At the Cancún session, it was decided to establish the Rules of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO. The Steering Committee has prepared a draft of such Rules which it submits to the Conference for adoption. The Rules would be applied as from the following session of the Conference.
|5.||Adoption of the outcome document|
|At the end of the session, the participants will be invited to consider and adopt an outcome document, the draft of which will be prepared by the Conference Steering Committee.
|* * *|
|Optional side event: Practical aspects of trade-related capacity-building with special focus on the needs of parliaments|
|Technical assistance and capacity-building programmes adjusted to the needs of developing countries are vital for advancing the Doha Development Agenda. The growing role of parliaments in overseeing governments' action in multilateral trade negotiations requires capacity-building measures focused on the unique oversight functions of parliaments. On the other hand, such measures should be seen as an integral part of the commitment efforts to enhance the developing countries' overall capacity to negotiate and effectively implement agreements.
|During this one-hour optional event, to be held during the lunch pause on the second day of the Conference, delegates will be briefed on current programmes carried out by UNDP and UNCTAD in this field and will have an opportunity to put forward their suggestions for strengthening capacity-building measures, in particular those focused on the needs of parliamentarians specializing in international trade.
|Updated on 19 November 2004|
|TUESDAY, 23 NOVEMBER|
|3 - 6 p.m.||Registration of participants|
|WEDNESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER|
|8 a.m. - 6 p.m.||Registration of participants|
|9 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.||Pre-Conference session of the Steering Committee (in camera meeting)|
|3 - 3.30 p.m.||Inaugural ceremony|
- Mr. Josep Borrell Fontelles, President of the European Parliament
- Mr. Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, representing the current Presidency of the Council of the European Union
- Mr. Shotaro Oshima, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Japan to the WTO, Chairman of the WTO General Council
- Mr. Sergio Páez Verdugo, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
|3.30 - 6.30 p.m.||Plenary session|
|Adoption of the agenda and other organisational issues|
|3.45 p.m.||Interactive panel discussion: The significance of the WTO General Council decision of 31 July 2004 for the future of the Doha Round|
- Mr. Peter Mandelson, European Trade Commissioner
- Mr. Peter Grey, Ambassador of Australia to the European Communities, Belgium and Luxembourg
- Mr. Luiz Filipe de Seixas Corréa, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the WTO
- Mr. U.S. Bhatia, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of India to the WTO
- Mr. Christopher Wilson, Office of the United States Trade Representative, Brussels
|6.30 p.m.||Reception hosted by the European Parliament|
TURSDAY, 25 NOVEMBER
|9 a.m. - 6 p.m.||Registration of participants|
|9 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.||Continuation of the plenary session|
|Substantive theme (a)||Agriculture|
- Mr. Boureima Gado, MP (Niger)
- Mr. Joseph Daul, Member of the European Parliament
- Mr. Masatoshi Wakabayashi, MP (Japan)
- Senator Evelyn Matthei Fornet (Chile)
|12.30 - 3 p.m.||Lunch break|
|2 - 3 p.m.||Optional side event on practical aspects of trade-related capacity- building with special focus on the needs of parliaments|
- Mr. Serafino Marchese, Counsellor, Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation, WTO
- Mr. David Luke, Senior Adviser, UNDP Office in Geneva
|3 - 6.30 p.m.||Continuation of the plenary session|
|Substantive theme (b)||Trade in services from a development perspective|
- Ms. Paddy Torsney, MP (Canada)
- Mr. Rupchand Pal, MP (India)
- Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Nigeria)
- Ms. Ann McKechin, MP (United Kingdom)
|7 - 9 p.m.||Drafting Committee (in camera meeting)|
FRIDAY, 26 NOVEMBER
|9 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.||Continuation of the plenary session|
|Adoption of the draft Rules of Procedure of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO (to be applied as from the following session of the Conference)|
|10 - 11.30 a.m.||Interactive session with the participation of the WTO Director-General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi|
|11.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.||Adoption of the outcome document and closure of the session|
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