Special Session For The Negotiations Meetings Of The Agriculture Committee

Original Publication Date: 
19 March, 2004

22-26 MARCH 2004

The new chairperson of the Special Session (i.e. the negotiations meetings) of the Agriculture Committee, Ambassador Tim Groser of New Zealand, has announced the timetable for the next negotiations meetings. They will start on Monday 22 March at 11:00.

In a message to delegations, he told them that the timetable is designed to strike a balance between the need to provide adequate opportunities for delegations to consult and negotiate among themselves, and the need to ensure that the negotiations are transparent, with collective stock-taking by all delegations. The timetable therefore includes time for delegations to meet among themselves in smaller groups and then report back to the full membership. This is the timetable:

MONDAY 22 MARCH

11:00 - FORMAL SPECIAL SESSION: to appoint chairman and agree on conduct of work for the rest of the week. (Then suspended until 15:00 Friday 26 March.)

Afternoon - open for negotiations and discussions among delegations (and Tuesday)

TUESDAY 23 MARCH

All day - negotiations and discussions among delegations (continued)

WEDNESDAY 24 MARCH

10:00 - INFORMAL OPEN-ENDED (i.e. open to all members) SPECIAL SESSION:to give delegations the opportunity to report on their negotiations and discussions and to take stock of progress made

Afternoon - negotiations and discussions among delegations (continued)

THURSDAY 25 MARCH

All day - negotiations and discussions among delegations (continued)(Regular Agriculture Committee meets from 10:00.)

FRIDAY 26 MARCH

10:00 - INFORMAL OPEN-ENDED (i.e. open to all members) SPECIAL SESSION:(1) to give delegations the opportunity to report on their negotiations and discussions and to take stock of progress made; (2) to consider whether and what kind of technical work would need to be undertaken at this stage.

Ambassador Groser said he is available to attend their consultations, but he would only do so if invited and strictly as an observer.

He explained that the schedule is designed to encourage DIRECT NEGOTIATIONS AND DISCUSSIONS AMONGST PARTICIPANTS. It reflects a widely shared view that, after some two years of the Doha Development Agenda, delegations have already made their initial negotiating positionsabundantly clear. Little purpose would be served by yet more extensive formal statements addressed to the Chair, he told them.

In addition, delegations have spent a lot of time building up coalitions amongst themselves, reflecting their shared concerns and shared objectives, he went on. Without any prompting from the chair, these coalitions have met informally to explore the possibility of common ground and to identify issues where further work is required.

So he has designed the timetable so that senior officials coming to Geneva for this 'Agriculture Week' can continue to hold their own discussions instead of spending a lot of time in a formal meeting.

Ambassador Groser also urged delegations not to wait until 22 March before holding further discussions. He said it would be in everyone's interests if delegations or coalitions come to Geneva having already met and developed some working hypotheses about how the talks might move forward both in content and procedure.

He asked them also to consult each other and propose what kind of technical work needs to be considered at the informal meeting on Friday morning, 26 March. He said he would continue to meet them in the meantime to deepen his own understanding of the issues.