Ambassador Michael Punke
Deputy United States Trade Representative
Informal Session of the Trade Negotiations Committee
October 21, 2011
“I’d like to thank the Director-General for his report.
“We agree with the general themes he has picked up in his consultations. While this progress in identifying possible core elements of convergence is important, we should not pretend that it is more or less than it is.
“While each of us can probably think of improvements we would want, we can’t escape the fact that the disagreements that have stood in the way of progress are substantive and fundamental. What Pascal has put before us is a reflection of that. So we need to keep working – but our immediate focus should be on building a consensus around the elements outlined by the Director General.
“We also need to avoid getting lost in platitudes. We can all choose to have a contest over who can profess their love for the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) most emphatically. But that won’t accomplish anything. What we need are concrete substantive ideas – new ideas – that will help us to find a way forward.
“I’ve heard suggestions that we should develop some type of work plan – and I’m extremely skeptical. Frankly, to me it sounds like trying to solve a substantive problem with a process solution. We’ve tried that – in dozens of permutations – and it hasn’t work. The United States will not support business as usual.
“Between now and the Ministerial, I suspect there will be a lot of talk about the credibility of the WTO. Well, the foundation of credibility is honesty. And the truth is that we face difficult issues for which there are no simple solutions.
“Let’s do what we can to find common ground for the Ministerial Conference, and move forward pragmatically from there.”