Lamy: dishonest broker in trade talks

2005-12-13 00:00:00

Lamy has proven himself to be a dishonest broker for developing countries. Members have been given an assurance on the 2nd December General Council meeting that the cover note that was attached to the 1 December draft would be retained on the draft text transmitted to Hong Kong.

However, on 7 December, delegates in Geneva found that the draft text for Hong Kong on the WTO website (7 December version ) did not carry the cover note. Instead, the note had been converted into a letter by the General Council Chair, Amina Mohamed and DG Pascal Lamy submitted to the Hong Kong Minister.

The cover note is important for all Ministers, not only the Hong Kong Minister because it highlights the fact that the text does not purport to represent agreement overall, that in some areas there is “a high level of convergence” but in other areas, ‘the text reflects a lower level of convergence”. It even highlights in bold that apart from Annex E on Trade Facilitation, “the texts in all of these annexes were presented on the responsibility of the respective Chairs. They do not purport to be agreed texts and are without prejudice to the position of any Member”.

According to a delegate, “The cover note on the draft forms an integral part of the draft Ministerial document. A letter to the Hong Kong Minister, in contrast, has no legal status.” She said that her delegation was only able to agree to the transmission of the draft to Hong Kong because the cover note made explicit that the Annexes were not negotiated texts and did not represent their positions.

Also alarmed by these events, Venezuela sent a letter to the Chair of the General Council, copied to Pascal Lamy on 7 December, expressing their concern. In the letter, Venezuela pointed out that Members on 2 December had not been informed of “the new way to proceed with the cover note”.

Venezuela too highlighted that it was only with the cover note that they, and other Members had agreed to approve the transmission of the Draft. Venezuela expressed their concern about the legal status of the note sent to Minister Tsang of Hong Kong, and underlined that it was “essential” that the cover note should be an integral part of the Draft Ministerial Text. “Otherwise, it will be too difficult for our delegations to start the discussions in the Sixth Ministerial Conference.”

Brazil also took this issue up directly with Pascal Lamy in a bilateral meeting on 7 December, but had no success.

Developing country delegates in Geneva are angered by Pascal Lamy’s manipulation of the text. He is seen as brokering in favour of the developed countries, using underhand tactics, even as he publicly champions the cause of “development”.

Source: Focus on the Global South