Have your say on South Africa’s Negotiation Stance

The WTO’s 6th Ministerial Conference will be held in Hong Kong from 13-18 December 2005. Diplomatically South Africa has a leading role to play in bridging the development agenda of the African contingent with that of the more reformist development position in the more widely constituted ‘Group of 20’ developing country contingent. However, more importantly, on a functional level trade is about improved systemic conditions for our business sector to improve the ‘bottom line’ in a globalized market place. Businesses trade, governments do not.
The private sector needs to take up its responsibility in consolidating South Africa’s national position. We recall with some trepidation the private sector’s lack of enthusiasm for influencing the national position in advance of the 5th Ministerial Conference in Cancun two years ago. At the time the Economist Intelligence Unit described the private sector’s understanding of the trading system as ‘abysmal’. Business Day noted at the time that the United States had about 700 representatives from the private sector who attended the talks to support and ‘threaten’ their negotiators, while in contrast about 10 South African business representatives made the trip to Mexico, with the MD of one of SA’s five biggest companies (a major exporter) remarking that ‘I can’t comment (on Cancun). What do I know about the United Nations?’
Hopefully we have improved on this in the intervening two years. Businesses wishing to enlist some assistance in making their interests known officially are welcome to contact us at Floor Incorporated for an opinion.
In addition, the government will be taking your views into consideration and has provided a consultation forum to accommodate this interaction. You are encouraged to respond to the following invitation that has been issued by the Department of Trade and Industry:
The Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations is underway at the World Trade Organization (WTO). With no prospect of a successful conclusion of the negotiations by the agreed deadline of 1 January 2005, the WTO General Council agreed in July 2004 to adopt a work programme that seeks to accelerate the negotiating momentum, and to conclude the Round by the end of 2006. An important milestone in the quest for a successful conclusion of the Doha Round will be the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference, to be held from 13 – 18 October 2005 in Hong Kong, China.
The South African Government is currently preparing its approach to the 6th Ministerial Conference. As part of the preparations, the Government is convening a National Consultative Conference, so that interested parties can participate in informing the development of South Africa’s approach to the meeting in Hong Kong, China.