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quinta-feira, 31 de janeiro de 2013

Roberto Azevedo: candidato brasileiro a DG da OMC

Ministério das Relações Exteriores
Assessoria de Imprensa do Gabinete
Nota à Imprensa nº 36
31 de janeiro de 2013

Apresentação do candidato brasileiro à Direção-Geral da OMC, Embaixador Roberto Azevêdo, ao Conselho-Geral da OMC

Let me start by thanking you, Madam Chair and Members, for this opportunity to be here with all of you, once again. It is an honour to participate as a candidate in this process of selection of the next Director-General.

All of you know me as the Brazilian ambassador to the WTO. Some of you know me since the days when I was a first-secretary posted at the Brazilian Mission here in the late 90’s, and all the way to vice-minister for trade and economic issues, coordinator of the G-20, chief-negotiator for Brazil in the Doha Round. I arrived in Geneva when the WTO was only two years old; and frankly I never left. Even when posted in Brasilia, most of my time was spent here in Geneva, negotiating in the WTO.

Throughout all these years and in all those instances, whenever I was in this building, I was here as a representative of my country. You all saw me defending the interests of Brazil.

This is the first time that, in this building, I will be sharing with you my personal vision of this Organisation, my thoughts about the multilateral trading system, my assessment of where we are today, and the path forward.
So, let me start with my views on trade.

I firmly believe that trade is an integral and indispensable element for growth and development of any economy. The ability to compete in global markets is a reliable indicator of the sustainability of any economic model. On the other hand, trade cannot be a goal in itself. It must happen in a way that improves living conditions of families in the real world.

As to the WTO, it is my view that a DG must truly believe in the principles that guide this institution. The preamble of the Marrakesh Agreement states that WTO members will negotiate mutually advantageous agreements that reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade. I do believe in this.
The preamble also maintains that our work must aim at raising standards of living and ensuring full employment. I also believe in this.

Finally, the preamble stresses that we need to ensure that developing countries, especially the smallest, must secure a share of international trade commensurate with their needs. You know I do believe in this.

I also believe that the work of this Organisation is most important in uncertain times, like today. The WTO disciplines are the best defence we have against protectionism and against the actions that aggravate the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable economies. What we do in the WTO has a direct impact on the quality of millions of lives around the globe. But remember, what we don’t do, also affects them.

We know quite well the three-pillars of the Organisation. The first one monitors the implementation of existing Agreements in the appropriate subsidiary bodies. It works well, although it could be improved, especially in the area of notification procedures.

The second pillar covers the dispute settlement mechanism. And this is an area that I know deeply. I was a direct participant, also serving on and chairing panels. It is, however, extremely complex and costly to participate in it. We must find ways to make the mechanism work also for the poorest countries. The Organisation can help with actions from within, but also facilitating arrangements outside its walls in the areas of assistance and training for example.

The third pillar is the one that allows for the evolution of the system, developing new rules and agreements, usually by means of multilateral rounds of negotiations. This is the pillar that concerns me most, for it has been effectively paralysed since the WTO was created in 1995. We are approaching two full decades of stagnation on the negotiating front. The system must be updated or it will soon become incapable of dealing with the demands of today’s changed world.

We hear many analysts express concern with the proliferation of negotiations of regional agreements, free trade areas, or plurilateral understandings. Whatever the reasons behind these initiatives, I firmly believe that the countries entering those initiatives would gladly negotiate a much broader and more encompassing multilateral deal. What we must do is ensure that the multilateral trading system remains the main tool for trade liberalisation.

It is true that we are now attempting to harvest, at the Bali ministerial, some outcomes in selected areas of the DDA, including priority development issues, trade facilitation, and some agricultural deliverables. This is a critical effort, but the multilateral system needs more than this to remain relevant and credible.

Then why have we stopped trying to solve the deadlocked issues? And I would suggest two major reasons.

First, the negotiating gaps will remain unbridgeable if we keep looking at them from the same perspective.

Second, we lack trust. One side does not believe that the other side truly wants to find a solution, and vice-versa of course.

So, under these circumstances, the obvious question is surely: where de we go from here?

I see at least three areas that we need to work on.

First and foremost we must try to achieve a successful negotiated outcome for Bali. Besides the very tangible material gains, that success would boost our confidence that we can still talk to each other and that we can do it in a constructive and productive way.

Second, we all need to believe that any Bali outcomes will not be the end of the road. A post-Bali process could include DDA and non-DDA elements but, whatever the roadmap, it must prioritise the issues of interest of the poorest countries.

Finally, we must resume our efforts to breathe life into the Round – and this must happen immediately after Bali. We all know that the WTO is bigger than the DDA, but the reality is that the system will remain clogged unless we can find a way to unlock the Round. I would suggest that, for a change, we stop avoiding the most difficult and intractable issues. Above all, we cannot throw away the development agenda that was strenuously negotiated to ensure delivery to the poorest and most vulnerable members of this Organisation. We can’t turn the page and leave them behind.

Most, if not all of you, must be wondering now how I could possibly believe that this is now doable given our track record over the past several years, especially with the lingering effects of the 2008 international financial crisis. In fact, I do believe that the time is right for a number of reasons.

I would start with the fact that we have had enough time to convince ourselves that no one is going to change his mind – certainly not anytime soon – about how they see what is on the table in the DDA. We have to deal with the gaps, as they exist.

Furthermore, global conditions will never be perfect for negotiations. When world economic growth is strong, some argue that there is no real incentive to negotiate. When growth is poor, the theory is that members will be less inclined to open their markets.

We cannot wait for all stars to perfectly align in a negotiation that involves over 150 parties. Countries will always be in different economic cycles.

In short, we must work with what we have and I honestly that think this is doable. I’ve had private and quiet conversations both with Ambassadors here in Geneva, and elsewhere with trade ministers (in Davos just last week) and with other high-level decision makers. It is evident to me that they all wish we could revive the Round. And this is not a minor element.

This is one of the areas where I’m certain I’ll be a good fit if you trust me with the DG position.

Do I have a ready answer on how to unlock the talks? No, I don’t. But most of the times when I helped unlock negotiations I didn’t have a pre-conceived solution either.
When a stalemate exists I not only listen carefully to what all delegations are saying, I also think about the motivations driving them, about previous positions they adopted in similar situations or similar topics, about their sensitivities, and even about the characteristics of their negotiators. Often a very subtle thread of commonality can be detected if you know the history and the details of the negotiation. Then it is a matter of being creative and of having the trust of the other negotiators. They must truly believe that you are seeking a viable and balanced solution. At this point, solutions that were not there at the beginning of the talks suddenly become promising avenues and frequently lead us to a satisfactory solution to all.

Given our circumstances, I don’t believe we have the time to train the next DG on the job. Come September, your DG will have to hit the ground running; and running fast and with the ability to engage all of you in this enterprise.

I believe my credentials allow me to be optimistic in my belief that I can help you. Over these last 16 years, I have not only consolidated the technical expertise that any DG should have, I have also developed a network that goes from ground level negotiators all the way up the political decision making ladder. At all these levels, in full trust, I have open-minded, constructive, and insightful interactions with a view to finding room for consensus.

I have always used these skills to comply with my instructions and to achieve the negotiating objectives set out for me by my government and my constituencies in Brazil. I believe these skills served them well. As DG, I would put these skills at your service, to achieve the goals you set out for me.

Let me now turn briefly to the fact that the Director General is the chief manager of the Organisation and that this aspect of his work also involves significant challenges.
The incoming DG will have to keep and, wherever possible, improve the high-level of quality of the staff, always rewarding merit and competence. At the same time, we cannot overlook the fact that this is an intergovernmental organisation, where members must shape its structure and culture. In this context, geographical representation is a key component. I will look into gradual ways of making the composition of the Secretariat reflective of the membership in terms of both nationality and gender, always in keeping with two overarching principles of excellence and cost-effectiveness.

For the benefit of all, including the staff personnel, the DG must insist on full disclosure, so that members have access to any information they require regarding the management and the administration of the Organisation.

The Organisation must help with the development of human resources and technical capacity in members that need such assistance. Aid for Trade must be enhanced, in particular where LDCs are concerned. And in this context, we should strive to increase the number of initiatives under the Enhanced Integrated Framework.

In concluding, Madam Chair, most of you know me very well. In fact, I am proud to say that my candidacy was not born in my head. It was not born in Brasilia either. It was born right here in Geneva, when other negotiators felt that I could help this Organisation as Director General and insisted that I accept the challenge. I was honoured by this encouragement that actually came from all sides of the negotiating table. All this weighed heavily on the decision in Brasilia to launch my candidacy.

If you trust me with the honour to be your next DG, I will use my experience and skills in a constant pursuit to reconcile what seems to be irreconcilable, with fairness, independence, transparency, bearing in mind that this is a member-driven Organisation, where all members, including the smallest, must be part of the driving force.

Thank you.

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