Africa Regional Workshop on WTO Negotiations, 31 August-2 September 2005
The Africa Regional Workshop on WTO Negotiations was convened by tralac and the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC), to coincide with the end of the summer break for Geneva-based delegations, and hence to take place just before the resumption of business in Geneva, in the final run-up to the 6th Ministerial Conference, held on 13-18 December 2005, in Hong Kong.
The Workshop drew high-level participation, with ambassadors to the WTO and senior government officials from sub-Saharan African countries, as well as experts from the WTO, other international as well as regional organisations, contributing to the programme and deliberations. Approximately ninety participants attended the Workshop.
Presenters included the Hon. Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Mandisi Mpahlwa, who delivered the key note address and opening statement to the conference, Hon. Amina Mohamed, Chair of the General Council of the WTO, Mr. Xavier Carim, from South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), officials from the WTO and ambassadors to the WTO, as well as experts from international and regional organisations. tralac and COMSEC also provided background briefing papers on key substantive issues, and progress in the negotiations.
Ambassador Mohamed, emphasized that time is a decisive factor in WTO negotiations, as the last meeting of the General Council, which will set the Agenda and draft the Resolutions for the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting, is scheduled for the end of November. She noted that the current snarl-up in the negotiations could be released by progress in the negotiations on agriculture, as tariff reductions formulas and modalities will have a great influence on Non-Agricultural Market Access negotiations (NAMA). Substantive progress has been made in a general understanding of the urgency of drafting modalities that are more decisive than the approximations that have been submitted to the General Council for its end of July meeting.
The following issues were discussed at the workshop:
Development Dimension of the DDA
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
Trade Facilitation and
The effect of trade preferences on WTO negotiations from an African perspective.
A second regional meeting, the Post Hong Kong Africa Regional Workshop on WTO Negotiations, was convened in April 2006.