2004 Speech

Commerce Minister's address to WTO meeting in Geneva

Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Hashim Yamani gave the following address to the 12th working meeting on the Kingdom’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva on June 16, 2004.

Mr. Chairman:
It is my pleasure to be back in Geneva with my high level delegation for the 12th meeting of the working party on Saudi Arabia’s accession to the WTO. I believe we may have set a record in the WTO by having four working party meetings within a span of eight months. This can only prove our sincere endeavor and tireless efforts aimed at achieving our accession to this esteemed organization before the end of this year. Our success should be attributed to the vital support and diligent attitude of our trading partners. May I take this opportunity, Mr. Chairman, to express my profound thanks and appreciation to you personally for your finesse and efficiency; to the distinguished delegates for carving the time from their busy schedules; and to the professional Secretariat team for their great support in achieving the desired results in this crucial meeting.

Mr. Chairman:
A secure and stable energy market remains an objective for Saudi Arabia, especially the oil market. I am confident that our trading partners can testify that the Kingdom discharges its commitment to achieve such endeavor. The recent declarations are a testament to what already the world knows: that Saudi Arabia is a stable, secure and reliable oil supplier.

Mr. Chairman:
Since the last working party meeting on April 29, and as per your concluding remarks and proposed action plan, Saudi Arabia has achieved the following major milestones:

First, the most important major development was in the area of legislation, as we have finalized all our pending laws and implementing regulations including the Competition Law which was promulgated by the Council of Ministers two days ago. The law on patents, layout designs of integrated circuits, plant varieties and industrial designs has been passed by the Consultative Council (Majlis Al-Shura) and is now before the Council of Ministers for final approval and promulgation. The border measures regulations have been authorized by the Council of Ministers to be issued by the Minister of Finance. They will all be distributed once the official translation is completed.

Second, today I am happy to inform the working party that we have signed our bilateral agreement with the Republic of India. Furthermore, we concluded our negotiations with Panama and ready to sign any time. Additionally, we continue to make positive progress with the U.S., and with mutual understanding, goodwill and cooperation, these bilateral agreements will soon be finalized.

Third, the final concordance of goods nomenclature has been compiled by the Saudi Customs Authority and submitted to the WTO Secretariat to facilitate the preparation of the consolidated schedule of concessions and commitments on goods, including the chemical harmonization initiative, ITA, and civil aircraft agreements.

Fourth, our technical teams have also managed, in a record time, to provide responses to the 83 pages of questions and comments received from our trading partners after the last meeting. These responses have been incorporated in Rev. 5 of the Working Party Report. Since its circulation, our technical teams have carried on their hard work to provide additional responses in the addendum delivered to the WTO Secretariat.

Mr. Chairman:
The WTO Secretariat, with utmost efficiency, has prepared the revised version of the Draft Working Party Report with its addendum. I sincerely believe this Draft Report is a balanced document and meets the genuine concerns of all sides in a satisfactory manner.

Mr. Chairman:
Before I conclude, let me state that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has done almost all that was required towards its WTO accession. This meeting represents the culmination of our joint endeavors in preparing, together with our trading partners, an ambitious package of mutual rights and obligations. Therefore, let us,

Mr. Chairman, devote this meeting to fine tuning the few remaining issues of the Draft Report for final adoption at the next meeting. I am certain by then the results of all bilateral agreements will have been incorporated in the consolidated schedules on goods and services. Thus, our shared goal of completing Saudi Arabia’s accession expeditiously will be realized. We are looking forward to the day when the Kingdom will be working alongside other WTO members, not only to uphold, but also to strengthen the principles and rules of the multilateral trading system enshrined in WTO.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.