Tribunal Arbitral Permanente de Revisão do MERCOSUL – História

Evolução do Sistema de Solução de Controvérsias

Com a assinatura do Tratado de Assunção, em 26 de março de 1991, estabeleceu-se em seu Anexo III um sistema provisório para resolver controvérsias, estruturado em torno de negociações intergovernamentais diretas.

Segundo a normativa então em vigor, iniciado o procedimento e em caso de não se chegar a uma solução, os Estados Partes se submeteriam à consideração do Grupo Mercado Comum (GMC), que em um lapso de 60 dias formularia recomendações para resolver a contenda. Para tanto, o GMC poderia contar com o assessoramento técnico de expertos ou grupos de peritos.

No caso de não se alcançar uma solução nesta instância, a controvérsia seria levada ao Conselho de Mercado Comum (CMC) para se adotassem as recomendações pertinentes.

Em razão de sua natureza provisória, os Estados Partes se comprometeram a adotar um sistema definitivo para a solução de controvérsias antes do dia 31 de dezembro de 1994 (Anexo III).

Em 17 de dezembro de 1991 firmou-se o Protocolo de Brasília (PB) – iniciativa também provisória ainda que prolongada até o ano de 2004 – que orientou o processamento de nove controvérsias entre os Estados Partes sobre questões de diversas índoles.

Constituiu o início formal de um instrumental procedimental fundado em Tribunais Arbitrais Ad Hoc (TAH), cujos Laudos se encontram sob custódia da Secretaria do MERCOSUL (SM).

Com a assinatura do Protocolo de Olivos (PO) — de 18 de fevereiro de 2002— houve a mudança na estrutura para a solução de controvérsias e se aperfeiçoou o sistema vigente.

Criou-se uma instância jurisdicional permanente – o Tribunal Permanente de Revisão (TPR) – para garantir a correta interpretação, aplicação e cumprimento dos instrumentos jurídicos fundamentais do processo de integração. O TPR pode se reunir como primeira e única instância ou como tribunal recursal de pronunciamento proferido por um TAH (arts. 19, 23 e 17 PO).

Finalmente, somou-se a essa estrutura a possibilidade de se recorrer ao TPR para que se solicitem Opiniões Consultivas (art. 3 PO) e para casos em que os Estados Partes provoquem o procedimento estabelecido para as Medidas Excepcionais de Urgência(CMC/DEC Nº23/04).

Tratado de Assunção:

Protocolo de Brasília:

CMC/DEC Nº23/04:


Lavrov: US must stop acting like global prosecutor (FULL INTERVIEW)

O Estado Islâmico em poucas palavras:


US bombs its own military hardware in Syria

US Bombs Syria without Congressional Approval After the House passes a rule banning calls for a debate or vote on war authorization, critics say Obama and congressional leadership are curbing dissent within own their ranks

September 24, 2014

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: After weeks of conducting airstrikes in Iraq to combat militant group ISIS, the government says it will be bombing at least four provinces in Syria. Amateur videos like this one posted on YouTube are already showing the damage of airstrikes on the civilian population. But on Tuesday, President Obama said that airstrikes are necessary to eventually defeating ISIS and the U.S. would not be going at this fight alone.BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: We were joined in this action by our friends and partners–Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar. America’s proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security.DESVARIEUX: But while President Obama was delivering his press conference on the South Lawn, a group of demonstrators gathered in front of the White House to protest his actions.DAVID SWANSON, DIRECTOR, WORLD BEYOND WAR: It is a violation of the Constitution in terms of Congress’s responsibility to declare war, a violation by the president, waging another recess war–when the Congress is out of town, wage a war; this is what his been his habit. But it’s also a violation by Congress itself, intentionally fleeing town.DESVARIEUX: But whether or not the president has the authority won’t be debated on the Hill, since Congress is now in recess. And on Friday, September 21, the last day before recess, the House passed a resolution banning any member of Congress from calling the members of Congress back from recess to vote on giving the president authority to go to war.Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern was in opposition of the rule.JIM MCGOVERN, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (D-MA): If any member of this House has any concerns about the ongoing military operations in Iraq, the potential of U.S. military airstrikes in Syria, or the possible introduction of U.S. combat ground forces into either country, then this rule will tie their hands for the next two months. Unfortunately, it is not clear if any vote will ever happen at any time in this House, even after we come back in November, even though there’s a growing bipartisan consensus that such an authorization is needed.DESVARIEUX: Also, Republican members of Congress have come out in support of a vote and debate on bombing Syria. President Obama has maintained that he has the authority to send troops based on the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, which grants the president authority to use force against those responsible for the September 11 attacks, a rule that the president himself recognized goes too far in his speech last year at the National Defense University.OBAMA: Unless we discipline our thinking, our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.DESVARIEUX: Critics say that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 makes it illegal for the president to use force in another country without the approval from the legislature within 60 days of the first military action. The president first deployed troops to Iraq in June, and there still has been no vote.SWANSON: The Congress members have the same power we have, and they could be protesting their leadership, they could be protesting the president. And yet they passed, through both houses, weapons and training and aid to rebels in Syria, close allies of the people they now say they are bombing. And then they passed a rule that said they can’t be forced back to vote on the war, and they left and went on vacation for months.DESVARIEUX: These antiwar demonstrators are concerned about increased amounts of American ground troops, especially after former secretary of defense Robert Gates promoted the idea of boots on the ground.ROBERT GATES, FMR. U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: They’re not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Peshmerga or the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy.DESVARIEUX: But President Obama has denied that any mission will involve more ground forces.OBAMA: As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.MEDEA BENJAMIN, COFOUNDER, CODEPINK: President Obama knows the American people don’t want boots on the ground, so he keeps saying no boots on the ground while he keeps sending boots on the ground. What do you call the 1,600 people who were there? He says they’re not going to be in combat positions. Hello? You’re sending them into this very, very dangerous area and they’re not going to be in harm’s way? Of course they are.And so I think the American people are soon going to realize that just like under Bush they’ve been lied to about the imminent threat, they’ve been lied to about the other justifications, like the humanitarian one, like saving U.S. personnel. These are all justifications for a war that the Obama administration has unfortunately decided on.DESVARIEUX: This week, the organization Campaign Nonviolence is organizing events in more than 200 cities. The demonstrators tried to deliver a letter to President Obama but were denied entrance, and five protesters were arrested. Protesters are calling for a solution outside of militarization.SWANSON: An arms embargo would be a very good first step. Seventy-nine percent of weapons shipped into the Middle East are U.S. weapons shipped from the United States, not counting the U.S. military’s weapons. So there you’re three-quarters done on an arms embargo with one nation on board. But you have the leverage to talk to the other nations and cut off arms into the Middle East. While you’re talking to them, talk about a ceasefire, talk about realistic representative government in Iraq, talk with Iran and everyone else in the region, talk with Russia and Syria. I mean, and the White House does talk with these countries–it just talks to them about war, not about peace.And then a massive Marshall Plan of actual aid, not so-called military aid, but humanitarian aid, economic aid, agricultural aid, water, medicine. I mean, these are wars motivated by poverty and desperation and the destruction of an occupation and the lack of clean drinking water in parts of Syria that got this civil war in Syria going in the first place. Use those roots of the problem as solutions. It would cost less.DESVARIEUX: But with about 20 protesters in attendance, CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin says that they are going to need more mobilization from politicians and from the people if there’s ever going to be a change of course.BENJAMIN: And if this were being done under Bush, we would see thousands of people out here protesting, we would see the Progressive Caucus yelling and screaming. And right now the Progressive Caucus in Congress, this very large body of congressional officials, is divided on this. You have the two cochairs with totally opposite opinions. One of them, Congressman Keith Ellison, voted to fund the rebels in Syria, and the other one, Raúl Grijalva, voted against it. So we don’t even have unity within the Progressive Caucus. If it were Bush, there would be unity in the Progressive Caucus and there would be a huge grassroots movement.DESVARIEUX: For The Real News Network, Jessica Desvarieux, Washington.

Roberto Azevêdo: Success of WTO dispute settlement brings urgent challenges


26 September 2014

Azevêdo says success of WTO dispute settlement brings urgent challenges

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo told the Dispute Settlement Body on 26 September that “there is no question that the WTO’s dispute settlement system has been a success”, noting that in just under 20 years, the system has received 482 requests for consultations, much more than the 300 disputes GATT received in 47 years. He also noted that in the first 16 years of the WTO estimates suggest the system handled disputes covering at least US$1 trillion of trade flows. He said that “while this is welcome, it does create some real challenges”, including the doubling since 2012 of disputes being handled by the Secretariat, and a much higher than expected rate of appeals. This is what he said:

Good morning everybody.

I’d like to talk to you about the current situation in the DSB: the challenges we face, what we’re doing to overcome them — and what more we may need to do.

There is no question that the WTO’s dispute settlement system has been a success. The numbers tell their own story about how valued it has become.

  • In just under 20 years since the system came into being, 482 requests for consultation have been received.
  • In 47 years under the GATT, 300 disputes were received.
  • And in 68 years the International Court of Justice has received 162 cases.

So we have seen a remarkable level of activity.

Looking at the economic importance of the system, researchers found that, in the first 16 years of the DSB, we handled disputes covering at least US$1 trillion of trade flows.

And members clearly hold the system in high esteem. Two thirds of our membership have participated in the system in one way or another.

It has been suggested that the ever-increasing number of RTAs might pose a challenge, but this has not proved to be the case.

Most dispute settlement mechanisms provided for in RTAs are rarely used — indeed, some have never been used at all. Yet one in every five of WTO disputes involve parties who are also parties to RTAs.

This means that the system is in very high demand.

In fact, as you are aware, we are experiencing unprecedented volume of work in dispute settlement.

And while this is welcome, it does create some very real challenges.



So let’s take a look at the current situation in the DSB.

I won’t spend too much time on this today as I want to focus more on prescription, rather than diagnosis.

The total number of active proceedings being serviced by the Legal Affairs Division, Rules Division, and the Appellate Body Secretariat has roughly doubled since 2012.

Today there are 19 active panels requiring full-time assistance, 3 ongoing appeals, and 4 panels in composition.

Our estimates suggest that this is not just a temporary surge and I do not believe that dispute settlement volume will soon diminish. In fact, 2014 is moving faster than 2013 in terms of the number of panels established by this time of year.

As for appeals, you are well aware that the rate of appeal has always been very high — and much higher than expected when the negotiators created a body of 7 part time Members. The average rate of appeal is approximately two-thirds.

This means we should prepare for around 10-12 appeals being filed per year during the next 24 months including possible appeals in the two complex aircraft cases.

If we shut the doors today, panels and the Appellate Body will have enough work to keep them and their Secretariat staff busy for the next 2 years. But of course the doors will not be shut — new requests will keep coming in.

But it is not just the number of disputes and appeals that places demands on the dispute settlement system.

Disputes are generally much more complex now than they were in the first decade.

It is now common for disputes to involve multiple parties advancing a variety of claims with more voluminous submissions, increased third-party participation, more demand for translation, and greater procedural complexity.

I am now going to show a few slides illustrating the upward trend in the complexity of disputes:

  • The first graph shows the total number of active disputes per year since the beginning of the system in 1995 including all stages of disputes.

  • The next two graphs show the number of pages of interim review and findings in the panel reports per 4-year period from 1995 to 2014.

  • The first includes the two LCA reports.
  • The second excludes those two reports as they are outliers in terms of their length. Nevertheless you can see that the trend is unchanged. For the most recent 4-year period the average is nearly 200 pages — which is almost four times greater than the first 4-year period, when there was an average of 50 pages.
  • The final graph shows the average number of exhibits for the first five years of the system at about 94 — and for the most recent five years of the system, at just over 300.

As with the upward trend in the number of cases, I don’t expect this increased level of complexity to change.

We are in a situation where the demand is severely testing our capacity. And there are some clear constraints on our ability to extend that capacity — such as the budgetary situation and some aspects of how the system was designed.

For example, we have had some difficulties in retaining staff, which have contributed to some extent to the challenges we are facing. Speaking frankly, the private sector, and others, can offer WTO dispute settlement lawyers more stable and lucrative long-term working conditions and better career advancement opportunities. That’s just reality.

We therefore lost a number of trained and experienced lawyers — and their institutional and case law memory.

Under the present circumstances, we need senior and experienced lawyers to lead panel teams, especially bearing in mind that panellists are part-time. And some of them are not experienced with the system.

We must also be mindful of the fact that the capacity of the Appellate Body is limited, first and foremost by the fact that the DSU stipulates that the Appellate Body shall be composed of 7 members.

The intensity of the work required to complete an appeal within the 90 day timeframe means that it is not possible for an Appellate Body Member to serve on two divisions with identical or largely overlapping schedules.

The likelihood that appeals will remain too numerous for the Appellate Body composed of 7 members to handle in parallel, is to be continued.  Even with somewhat staggered appeal filings the Appellate Body cannot hear more than three of the nowadays more complex appeals in parallel.

Therefore, even if we could service more panels than we currently do, we still have an insurmountable bottleneck at the Appellate Body stage.

All these factors explain why some Members are experiencing delays with panels getting up and running after composition. It also explains why the Appellate Body will need more than 90 days to complete some appeals over the coming months and why parties may have to wait for an appeal slot to become available.

I can assure you that we are cognisant of the delays that some of you have experienced recently, particularly after panel composition.

I understand that this can pose difficulties for you, including financial difficulties.

I want to be clear that in working through cases, we are proceeding in a strictly chronological order without discrimination or favoritism. There is no arbitrary or subjective approach to determining the sequence.


So, in very plain terms, that’s where we stand today.

When I started the job this time last year, I found that things were even worse than I had expected. It was an emergency situation.

Despite the number of disputes rising to its highest in a decade starting in 2012, this slide shows that in 2013 the Secretariat did not have enough lawyers who could be assigned in new disputes.

This is partly because we had lost a number of trained and experienced lawyers in the preceding few years.

So I took immediate steps to deal with the problems.

I reallocated resources so that the 3 dispute settlement divisions could recruit junior lawyers through temporary contracts for 1 to 2 years, using funds that were available from vacant posts.

A total of 17 temporary contracts have been awarded in the three divisions since February 2013. Part of this reallocation has addressed the need for additional native speakers of Spanish.

And we have achieved some results through staff mobility.

I am envisaging to temporarily assign 2-3 staff members from non-dispute settlement divisions to pending and upcoming disputes as lead lawyers.

These staff members had previously worked on disputes, but they are currently in different divisions. Of course, there is a very limited number of staff with this experience.

The same is true for support staff, which require specific expertise more akin to that of registrars, paralegals and professional editors.

Therefore mobility (in short, moving people from one division to another) is not the silver bullet that some may think it is. We need to be prepared to take some bigger steps.

Simply put, the need for specialised skills means that we will need to hire new staff at both the senior and junior levels.

Although we have been able to attract qualified people through temporary contracts in the recent past, we are unable to retain them without offering more stability and long-term career opportunities. And when they leave, the considerable effort and time that we have invested in training them is completely lost.

So we must find ways to retain the best and the brightest once we have recruited and trained them.

Moreover we must bring new people in at the senior level — and this is where the most acute problem is at the moment. The supply is just not there. Let’s be realistic.

Even if we bring in new people at the senior level, it also takes at least a year to 18 months for them to develop specialized skills and experience necessary to lead a panel or an appeal team.

So this is something that we will address.

This slide shows the changes that I am going to make in order to deal with these issues.

I have recently allocated 15 additional posts to the 3 dispute settlement divisions — 6 at the senior level and 9 at the junior level. Vacancies for these posts will be announced next week.

In fact, my intention is to create overcapacity in the dispute settlement area. Should dispute settlement activity wane in a year or two, which is again very unlikely, then we will put these talents to work elsewhere in the Secretariat — and bring them back if the work in dispute settlement so requires.

Of course hiring staff at present is problematic. Members have put very clear limitations on what I can do. And I am not whining.

First, there is the overall cap on the budget.

Second, there is the cap on the proportion of the budget which can be used for personnel.

Of course I must observe both of these caps, and therefore my options are limited.

I am reallocating resources within the organization. When senior posts are vacated elsewhere in the Secretariat, a significant proportion saved there will be reallocated to disputes.

Of course this approach will inevitably have some consequences. It means, for example, that we will have to stop doing some things, or that we will have to do certain things with less. And that perhaps we will also have to outsource even more of our work, including translation.

Clearly there are limits to the sustainability of this approach, which Members will want to consider.

There are some other steps that we can take to alleviate some of the pressure on the system, in addition to those we are taking on staff.

To start, we must address the complexity of disputes. There are precedents for this. For example:

  • Simplifying the descriptive part of a panel report by annexing parties’ executive summaries to the report. That simplifies things a little.
  • Sometimes setting time limits for oral presentations before panels.
  • Seeking ways to streamline selection of panel experts.
  • And, in the Appellate Body, standardizing the content and format of routine communications and rulings.

Members could think about taking additional steps in a similar vein in going forward. I am trying to ask you to be helpful!

Members could also consider some more fundamental steps. And this is for you to consider.

Some years ago there was a proposal to increase the number of AB members.

Under the current situation the 7 member AB can handle around 10-12 appeals at most per year. That’s stretching the envelope. And this is with AB Members working almost full-time. This operational cap is thus simply not enough given the level of demand.

If, for example, Members decided to increase the number of members to 9, the maximum per year could be increased by approximately a third.

This could potentially address the bottleneck at the AB stage to some degree. But of course this is entirely in your hands.


We will continue to work hard to address these issues.

But, I think that members need to reflect on the situation that I have outlined today.

I think it is important to consider how the system was designed — and how it has evolved since then.

We thought we had built a sailboat — but now we have discovered that what we have on our hands is an ocean liner.

And of course an ocean liner requires more resources, more fuel and a bigger crew.

So we will need to consider what resources we are prepared to provide if we want to stay afloat.

I am taking concerted action to resolve the challenges before us — but I am working within constraints.

No amount of mobility or invention will adequately resolve our situation definitely.

We need to confront the situation as we find it today — and we need to be honest about what it means if it goes unaddressed.

The WTO dispute settlement system has served the membership extremely well.

It is recognized the world over for providing fair, high quality results that respond to both developing and developed country members.

It is faster than most if not all international adjudicative systems operating today, to say nothing of domestic courts the world over.

We need to ensure that this remains the case.  And for this, I invite you to start thinking seriously about the hard options and decisions we will have to face to fix the system.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank staff members for their very hard work in assisting panels and the Appellate Body Members. The WTO dispute settlement system would not have achieved its current success without their professionalism and dedication.

Thank you.

Fonte: OMC

Roberto Azevêdo: “Regional trade agreements ‘cannot substitute’ the multilateral trading system”



25 September 2014

Regional trade agreements “cannot substitute” the multilateral trading system—Azevêdo

Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, in closing the WTO Seminar on Cross-Cutting Issues in Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) on 25 September 2014, said that RTAs “are important for the multilateral trading system—but they cannot substitute it”. He pointed to “big issues” such as trade facilitation, financial or telecoms regulations or farming and fisheries subsidies that “can only be tackled in an efficient manner in the multilateral context through the WTO”. This is what he said:

Good afternoon everybody. I trust that you have had a productive day discussing what is a very complex issue.

I am pleased to have the chance to speak to you on RTAs and the many cross cutting issues that they give rise to.

Clearly RTAs are not a new phenomenon.

In fact they pre-date the multilateral system because, in a sense, they were the seeds which grew into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. You can argue that the GATT was effectively a multilateralisation of the network of reciprocal trade agreements that countries had been pursuing for some years previously.

So the system as we know it today has its roots in these agreements — and we have always allowed for new agreements to be created. Both the GATT and now the WTO have specific rules providing scope for this.

So these initiatives are important — they co-exist with the multilateral system — and they can bolster it in a significant way.

RTAs are blocks which can help build the edifice of global trade rules and liberalization.

But of course things have changed in recent years.

RTAs have grown much more rapidly since the WTO came into being compared to the days of the GATT.

The WTO has been notified of 253 RTAs that are in force today.

On average this has meant 24 notifications per year since the formation of the WTO, compared to 3 on average during the GATT years. This is a considerable increase.

And these agreements are not only more numerous, they are becoming increasingly complex.

While over 80% of RTAs notified are bilateral agreements, we are seeing more and more large regional agreements.

And we are seeing more agreements between countries in different regions, rather than between neighbours. This is very different from the pattern we saw during the GATT years.

In addition we see many more developing countries negotiating RTAs today.

This proliferation of agreements, each with their own sets of rules, has been dubbed a “spaghetti bowl” — and I would certainly agree that we are seeing a significant increase in the level of complexity inside the agreements and in their relations with each other.

Most RTAs of today make deeper and more extensive commitments, and have moved beyond commitments only in market access in goods.

Research by the Secretariat based on RTAs notified since 2000, shows that:

  • Around 60% of these RTAs contain commitments in both goods and services.
  • Over half contain rules on investment.
  • Other issues such as provisions on government procurement, competition, SPS, TBT, trade defence measures and intellectual property rights are also found in over half of the RTAs notified.
  • A smaller proportion also include other issues such as environmental and labour standards and electronic commerce, which are not covered by the WTO.

A question which requires further consideration is how RTA provisions can be complementary to the multilateral trading system.

The papers that were presented today are an attempt to fill that gap in our knowledge.

The papers address similarities and differences between the provisions in RTAs and the WTO agreements.

And, as you saw, it is a very mixed picture.

For some issues such as market access in goods and services, most RTAs grant their partners a higher level of market access than that available through the WTO.

For other issues, the picture is less straightforward.

For example, RTA provisions on anti-dumping rules. In general RTAs do not appear to have gone much further beyond where we are in the WTO today.

Similarly, for provisions on intellectual property rights, almost half of all RTAs examined simply reaffirm existing rights under the TRIPS Agreement.

While for issues such as investment, which is touched on by some RTAs, there are no WTO rules.

Furthermore, although some RTAs have provisions on disputes, most of the dispute settlement mechanisms provided are rarely used. Meanwhile the level of activity in the WTO’s DSB is rising very rapidly — and one in five of the disputes brought to the WTO involve parties who are also themselves part of an RTA.

Another trend that has been noted in the past few years is negotiations that could potentially bring together a number of existing RTAs, in so-called “megaregional” negotiations.

These negotiations aim to consolidate existing preferential relationships — so their potential effect on the overall level of complexity will be a topic for further research and analysis.

While the trend to negotiate new RTAs continues, liberalizing trade bilaterally or regionally is only a part of the picture.

As I have said many times — these initiatives are important for the multilateral trading system — but they cannot substitute it.

I would point to a number of factors.

To start with, there are many big issues which can only be tackled in an efficient manner in the multilateral context through the WTO.

Trade Facilitation was negotiated successfully in the WTO because it makes no economic sense to cut red tape or simplify trade procedures at the border for one or two countries — if do it for one country, in practical terms you do it for everyone.

And this is not the only issue that’s inherently multilateral.

Financial or telecoms regulations can’t be efficiently liberalized for just one trade partner — so it is best to negotiate services trade-offs globally in the WTO.

Nor can farming or fisheries subsides be tackled in bilateral deals.

Disciplines on trade remedies, such as the application of anti-dumping or countervailing duties, cannot significantly go beyond WTO rules.

The simple fact is that very few of the big challenges facing world trade today can be solved outside the global system. They are global problems demanding global solutions.

Another important aspect, leaving aside the content of the agreements for a moment, is their geographical scope. RTAs tend to exclude the smallest and most vulnerable countries. That’s a major source of concern.

And as our economies become more interconnected across borders and regions, RTAs do not — and probably cannot — fully address the gains from trade that can be obtained through global value chains. Indeed, the strict, product specific rules of origin that often accompany RTAs may actually be detrimental to value chains and therefore exclusionary for some. The smaller the country, the smaller the company, the smaller the trader, the bigger the likelihood is that they will be excluded.

There is also concern that by creating different sets of rules and regulations, RTAs may be burdensome for traders and business. This is the complexity point that is a concern for many.

Finally, although these initiatives show that WTO Members continue to liberalize trade, fragmentation of the trading system cannot be a substitute for the benefits of negotiating one set of rules for all.

Ideally, this is where we should be putting our focus.

But in order to ensure this clearly one thing we need to do is to deliver on what we agreed in Bali.

We are now halfway through an intensive consultation period to resolve the current impasse on this — but as things stand today, at this point in time, we don’t have a solution.

While this situation persists I think the risk of disengagement increases exponentially. And this point is underlined by the proliferation of these other approaches which you have been examining today.

For the sake of the multilateral system, and all those who stand to benefit from it, I think we have to find a solution to our current problems and put our work here at the WTO back on track. And we have to do it quickly. Time is not on our side.

To conclude, I hope today’s meeting has given you the opportunity to look at some of these issues in detail — and provide some food for thought. I hope it has been a very interactive exercise.

As I have said, RTAs are not new, but they are growing and spreading at an unprecedented rate — and it is clear that there remain some considerable gaps in our knowledge.

One fundamental point is that very little information exists on the benefits of RTA preferences.

So I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the WTO’s Transparency Mechanism for RTAs. I commend you for the important information you have provided. It is this information that enables the kind of research that you have seen presented today.

The information, however, is not complete. A number of RTAs that are in force have not yet been notified. So we need to fill that gap as well.

Therefore I very much hope for your continued cooperation through timely notifications of RTAs as this will help us to address this issue.

In this way we will be able to gain a better understanding of the impact that RTAs have — how they work together amongst themselves, how the complement the multilateral system, or not — and what that means for us all.

So it with a sense of gratitude that I join you today.

When I visit a country — and I visit a great many as part of this job — every single time I hold a press conference or public event, the one question I always get is: “what do RTAs mean for global trade — how do they impact the multilateral system?”

So this is a big issue. And I am thankful for your time in tackling it today.

Thank you for listening.