General Council Elected New Chair


The General Council, on 14 February 2012, elected Ambassador Elin Johansen (Norway) as chairperson for 2012.
Ambassador Elin Johansen (Norway) is elected as chairperson of the General Council for 2012 (WTO)
The outgoing chair, Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah (Nigeria), informed members that consensus had not been achieved on the slate of names for the appointment of officers to WTO bodies. The General Council agreed that the new chair should continue consultations, and that it would reconvene as soon as possible to continue its consideration of this matter.
Director-General Pascal Lamy and many delegations paid tribute to the leadership of Ambassador Agah during the past year. They especially commended his efforts leading to the success of the Eighth Ministerial Conference held last December.
The General Council adopted the two waiver decisions: “Cuba — Article XV:6 — Extension of the waiver”, and “European Union — Additional autonomous trade preferences granted by the EU to Pakistan”. Pakistan expressed gratitude to members and the EU in particular for the decision.
The Chairman of the Dedicated Session of the Committee on Trade and Development, Ambassador Anthony Mothae Maruping (Lesotho), recalled the Decision on the Work Programme on Small Economies adopted at the Eighth Ministerial Conference,  and said that the focus of that programme for this year would be the identification of non-tariff measures and their effect on small economies. Barbados, speaking on behalf of the small vulnerable economies (SVEs), said that non-tariff measures were an important area for further examination in the WTO, and particularly critical for small vulnerable economies whose exports could be permanently impaired by non-tariff measures. 
The outgoing General Council chair reported on his consultations on a proposal by the Arab Group on improving the guidelines for granting observer status to intergovernmental organizations in the WTO. He urged continued engagement of members to address this issue.
The Director-General reported on the implementation of the recommendations for savings and more efficient use of resources made by the Budget Committee and adopted by the General Council at its November 2011 meeting. He referred to measures taken on documentation and to save on translation costs, including moving from detailed minutes of meetings to summary records. He sought members’ co-operation in devising better notification formats and in developing more efficient notification processes. Another important element in this cost-saving exercise was to improve the scheduling and management of meetings.
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