Norway’s statement at the informal Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) and Heads of Delegations (HoDs) meetings 19 July 2019

Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli, Norway’s Permanent Representative to the WTO and EFTA, in his intervention delivered at the informal Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) and Heads of Delegations (HoDs) meetings on 19 July 2019, regretted to once again stress that the most urgent issue facing the organization is the crisis affecting the dispute settlement function. The Norwegian statement in its entirety can be read below:

Thank you DG for your report and thanks to the chairs of the negotiating groups for their updates.

This time around, I believe we have reason to be somewhat more upbeat in our assessment of the state of play in the negotiating pillar.

The main reason for this flicker of optimism is the progress made in the fisheries subsidies negotiations. Thanks to the steady leadership of ambassador Zapata and the able contributions of the four facilitators, we now have four working papers that will help us to engage in more focused negotiations in the fall. This is a significant step forward to delivering on the whole mandate within the agreed timeframe.

In this context, I would like to express our gratitude to ambassador Zapata for his tireless efforts. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Norway will continue to pay special attention to the discipline on overcapacity and overfishing, due to the real impact it can have on the sustainability of fisheries resources. Furthermore, we recognize that this is an area where challenges related to the development dimension need to be addressed effectively.

We will continue to work for an effective and comprehensive outcome. We will help search for solutions that can bridge gaps, but the least common denominator will not be enough to meet the whole mandate. We will need to do better than that.

Norway notes that for several members, agriculture is a key part of any negotiated outcome at MC12. In our view, the membership needs to be realistic with regard to what is possible to achieve when views are divided on how to make progress. This is the situation in general, including on domestic support.

Norway is willing to engage constructively in any discussion on agriculture, taking into account our well-known sensitivities. To achieve results at MC 12, proposals submitted by proponents and text based discussions will be needed after the summer break.

Norway is pleased by the constructive engagement and active participation of many members in the joint statement initiatives, and encourages others to take part as well.

We value the constructive meetings we had on e-commerce, and look forward to continuing the negotiations in the fall with the aim to update the rulebook in an area of great importance to trade and industry.

Furthermore, we welcome the progress achieved on Investment Facilitation for Development, and support the ambition to move the discussion to a new phase.

On development, we look forward with anticipation to the revised proposals from G90. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank ambassador Ngarambe for his efforts as chair of CTD/SS.

DG, I regret to once again stress that the most urgent issue facing the organization is the crisis affecting the dispute settlement function. Many members have engaged actively in the search for a sustainable solution. This engagement deserves recognition, and the process to fill the vacancies in the Appellate Body should be initiated without further delay.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank all members that have presented their views on WTO reform, including the development dimension. As we see it, the membership can best start preparing for MC12 by putting forward ideas, exchanging views and seeking a way forward together.

In a time of increased trade tensions, risks of further unilateral measures and bilateral deals outside the framework of the WTO, safeguarding and strengthening the multilateral trading system is more important than ever before.

Thank you.