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26th Quadrilateral Trade Ministers Meeting
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, May 5, 1995
It has been less than six months since the coming into force of the Uruguay Round Agreements and the establishment of the WTO. Our discussions over the past two days have been motivated by a collective commitment to the full implementation of the Agreements, to the consolidation of this new institution and to the conclusion of on-going negotiations. We have looked beyond this agenda to how we might make progress on the new generation of issues that must be addressed if we are to maintain the momentum of trade liberalization. We have also looked beyond this meeting to the G-7 Summit in Halifax and future multilateral meetings, including the 1996 WTO Ministerial Meeting.
We have discussed the actions necessary to build the WTO as a strong and credible institution. We intend to work vigorously with other members of the WTO to resolve outstanding issues regarding the mandate and resources of the Secretariat so that it will be able to fulfil the role intended for it. This must include establishing an effective working relationship between the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and other international institutions. We regard the Dispute Settlement Understanding, with the Appellate Body to be created pursuant to it, as one of the crowning achievements of the Uruguay Round.
We discussed the importance of enhancing the transparency of the WTO and steps that could be taken to facilitate the public's understanding of the WTO and its operations, including in the area of dispute settlement. We recognize the need to continue to pursue this issue and continue to make improvements.
The accession to the WTO of emerging economies and economies in transition was discussed. We look forward to their integration into the global trading system in accordance with the rules that apply to all WTO members. In this regard we exchanged views on the upcoming meeting with the representatives of China. We are seeking an indication of further commitment on the part of China to the action necessary to bring policy fully into line with the rules- based trading system. We are prepared to respond to such an initiative by China.
Services and investment are critical areas of economic activity and the improved rules and commitments that we are working to achieve can contribute enormously to trade liberalization and economic growth.
We reviewed current negotiations in services sectors (financial services, telecommunications, movement of persons, maritime transport services). We emphasize the need for substantial further progress in the financial services negotiations before the end of June. We reaffirmed our strong shared commitment to a successful completion of the process and urged all countries to make necessary and specific efforts to improve their offers so as to create the conditions for a liberal, MFN regime for financial services under the WTO.
We took note of the significant offers made in the negotiations for movement of persons and would consider additions to them in response to improved offers in other areas. We will work closely together in the weeks remaining to June 30 and are actively considering appropriate actions to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion.
We recognize the importance of completing the negotiations on basic telecommunications services by April 1996. We agree that the early liberalization within this sector of services, infrastructure and investment is the most effective way to promote a global information infrastructure. This would help achieve the objectives jointly agreed at the February G-7 Ministerial Conference on the Information Society. To provide impetus to the negotiations and to examine obstacles to their completion.
We welcome the consensus to launch ambitious negotiations in the OECD on a multilateral agreement in investment. Global investment flows have grown dramatically. A multilateral agreement would provide a comprehensive framework for international investment and would strengthen the international trading system. We will ask the OECD to consult with non-members during these negotiations and to provide observer status to the WTO Secretariat. In view of the increased importance of investment flows globally, we call on our partners in the WTO to begin discussions on investment.
Businesses in all Quad countries have told us that we must tackle the significant barriers that exist inside borders such as standards and regulations. The information technology industry, for example, is a sector that is hampered by differing standards on testing and certification. We have agreed to pursue initiatives individually and jointly to address these barriers through such means as Mutual Recognition Agreements. We are committed to continued regulatory reform. We regard this as an effective way for governments to promote growth, job creation and trade. We are pleased with the work done in the OECD in the area of regulatory reform and support further efforts there and elsewhere.
We discussed the impact on market access of domestic policies in the area of competition law. We have agreed that we should deepen our work in the OECD and elsewhere to bring us to a point where decisions can be made about a possible multilateral agreement to strengthen competition and trade principles worldwide.
Our discussions included a review of work underway in the OECD and the WTO on the relationship between rules in the areas of trade and environment. We are satisfied that progress is being made towards the objective of making rules in these areas complementary while not jeopardizing the goal of continued trade liberalization. We also took note of work underway in the OECD and the ILO to examine the current mechanisms for the promotion of labour standards. We support this analytical work. We welcome the progress being made in the OECD on the issues at stake and believe that they deserve broader debate among the world players.
The orientation of our discussions over the past two days reflects the emergence of new challenges for the trading system and new opportunities for trade liberalization. We do not intend to limit our future discussions to these sectors and issues - as important as they may be. We will actively pursue elimination of remaining barriers and senior officials of the Quad will study how this can best be done.
As we look towards the future agenda for trade negotiations, the first WTO Ministerial Meeting in 1996 presents an opportunity to maintain the momentum of trade liberalization.
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