Thank you DG for your report and thanks to the negotiating chairs for their updates.
Norway remains deeply concerned about the current trade tensions and the potential damaging effects of protectionism and unilateral measures. On the other hand, we are encouraged by the engagement of many members committed to safeguarding the rules-based trading system, not the least by engaging actively in efforts to make this organization more effective and more relevant to the challenges of the 21st century.
The most urgent challenge is related to the Appellate Body. The informal consultations under the auspices of the General Council must continue as we search for sustainable solutions. WTO Members have responded constructively and in good faith to the concerns raised regarding the Appellate Body. Now would be a good time for a similar response and signal of good faith by agreeing to initiate the appointment process to fill the vacancies.
Norway welcomes initiatives that aim to increase the efficiency of the WTO and strengthen Members’ compliance with agreed rules. We encourage proponents to reach out to the membership to exchange views on how proposals may be developed in a direction where consensus might be within reach.
Updating rules through negotiations is an essential part of our agenda to modernize and safeguard the WTO. The immediate task is to conclude successfully the negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Norway thanks members that come forward with new papers or are working on new ideas in an effort to bridge gaps. We all need to make an effort to move out of the trenches and look for solutions that implement SDG 14.6 in the WTO through adoption of comprehensive and effective disciplines.
Norway welcomes the initiative to start negotiations to develop rules on e-commerce as an important part of the work to update the rulebook. I would like to thank Australia, Japan and Singapore for their leadership in this process and encourage all members to engage in the negotiations.
Finally, chair, I would like to underline the importance of including all members in our efforts to modernize the multilateral trading system. The development dimension must be an integral part of our work. To succeed we need to find a more constructive way to have a conversation about trade and development. The current approach is not taking us forward and is preventing us from reaching multilateral solutions. Norway believes that a more pragmatic approach can help members bridge differences and find a common way forward.