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Plenary Statement by Senator, the Hon. Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados on behalf of the ACP Group of States at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, 11 December 2017, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Mister Chair, Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
 
It was my honour to represent the states of the ACP as Coordinator at the historic 10th WTO Ministerial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2015. At this 11th meeting I am pleased to represent my distinguished successor, the Honourable Carl Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana who regrets that he cannot be here today.
 
Minister Malcorra, I congratulate you on your election to the Chair of this Eleventh WTO Ministerial and thank the Government and people of Argentina for their warm welcome and hospitality.
 
In preparation for this meeting, we, the ACP Trade Ministers, met in Brussels in October where we adopted our “ACP Group Ministeria l Declaration on the Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference”-- the first su bmission into the basket to go to MC11. We invite Ministers in Buenos Aires to review what more than 60 Members of the WTO, have set as priorities for their Ministerial.
 
We welcome the entry into force of the TRIPS and Public Health amendment which supports access to medicines for our weakest Members, and the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
 
As we commence MC11, we must emphasise our deep concern that negotiations in Geneva collapsed because of a failure to agree on cardinal principles. These principles relate to the integrity of the multilateral rules-based trading institution.
 
At this important moment, the multilateral rules based trading system faces uncertainty. The ACP strongly supports a multilateral rules based trading system that provides both protection and opportunities for all ACP countries and especially the least developed, small and vulnerable among them. These states need a transparent and fair multilateral trading system where their collective voice can advance their collective interests. That is why we signed on to the Marrakech agreement and to the Doha Development Agenda.
 
We know that when we met in Nairobi two years ago, the commitment to the WTO Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations was questioned by some Members. Nevertheless, we achieved a consensus committing all members to advance negotiations on outstanding DDA issues.
 
We know that food insecurity, income inequality and lack of economic opportunity are increasingly global problem. MC11 must have outcomes that convince the world that the WTO remains relevant and can contribute through increasing trade opportunities to resolving the challenges that are collectively ours.
 
The ACP Group will continue to do its part. The ACP has tabled proposals in three important areas this year and continues to engage actively on them.
 
(i)Our proposal on fisheries subsidies rules and our negotiators have led the efforts to fulfil the objectives of Sustainable Development Goals target 14.6. At this Ministerial, we must have a mandate to continue the negotiations after MC11 in hopes of a fuller outcome at the next Ministerial and before the 2020 deadline. It would also send an important signal if we were to agree, not to provide subsidies that contribute to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities. The message would have more resonance if we could agree to meaningful flexibilities and capacity building for tackling unregulated and unreported fishing activities;
 
(ii)As a part of the G90, we submitted a proposal on areas that would provide critically needed policy space to promote the industrialization, structural transformation and diversification of our economies. We ask your support and agreement across the WTO membership on these proposals.
 
(iii)On agriculture domestic supports, our proposal seeks to remove entitlements and practices that have become obstacles to the agricultural trade from our Members. Some progress should be made in this arena as well.
 
On all other areas in the DDA of common interest, we must agree to work, in a manner as we did in Bali on Trade Facilitation, in order to yield more concrete agreements.
 
Regarding new issues and new mandates, we support endorsement to continue in exploratory frameworks, consistent with what we agreed in Nairobi that multilateral negotiations are not launched unless by consensus of the Membership.
 
Mister Chair, Excellencies, I must call your attention to those nations that have been decimated by hurricanes and other disasters. In this devastated state there is no trade to speak of, and no infrastructure to implement rules as though it is business as usual. Certainly, these economies are good citizens in the multilateral rules-based trading system, and otherwise would diligently observe the rules. In this situation, these nations ought to receive meaningful attention in terms of WTO rules so that they can reconstruct and rebuild.
 
Mister Chair, I reiterate as I close that for the ACP, the WTO’s important work on trade as a vehicle for development, should not be denied, delayed, nor undermined.
 
Mister Chairman, the countries of the ACP anticipate that we can achieve mean- ingful outcomes at MC11.
 
Before we leave we must also provide a clear mandate to our negotiators, instructing them on their return to Geneva, to resume work in 2018, building on the work of 2017 and this Ministerial. Their work must be based on proposals and must be focussed on obtaining convergence for a meaningful, development centred conclusion of the DDA commitments. We must also work all WTO dossiers, in a manner that creates an increasingly transparent and fairer global trading system that promotes development for all our countries.
 
The ACP looks forward to continuing our engagement in a productive manner towards the attainment of these goals.
 
Mr. Chairman, colleagues, I thank you.
 
***
(Photo: WTO)


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