Pakistan to Chair three important WTO bodies during 2007

   During 2007 Pakistan is enjoying a unique distinction. The WTO members have elected its officers to chair 3 important WTO bodies. While Ambassador Manzoor Ahmad will continue to chair the TRIPS Council (Special Session) to which he was first appointed in February 2004 and Dr. Mohammad Saeed, Counsellor has been asked to continue to chair the Committee on Market Access to which he was appointed in 2006, Ms. Shaista Sohail has also been selected to Chair a WTO body - the Working Party on GATS Rules.

   In many ways it is an exceptional honour for Pakistan. First, it is Chairing a WTO body in each of the three WTO areas: TRIPS, Goods and Services. Secondly, it is the only one amongst 150 WTO members to have this honor of chairing three WTO bodies. By chairing the WTO TRIPS Council (Special Session), Pakistan is chairing one of the nine negotiating groups which have the overall responsibility to lead the Doha Round negotiations.

   It is very rare for any country to have more than one chair. In fact, even some regions are not represented. Chairs are selected keeping in view their suitability to handle a particular assignment and also to ensure a good regional distribution.  Officially, each council, committee or working party elects its own chairperson. Selection of chairs is done after a lengthy process of consultation. When the consultations are complete, the consensus slate is “noted” in the General Council, Goods Council or Services Council, and then each subsidiary council, committee or working party formally confirms the selection by electing its own chairperson by consensus.

   Almost all the chairs have one-year terms. The exceptions are: the Trade Negotiations Committee, chaired ex-officio by the WTO Director-General; and the chairs of negotiating groups under the Trade Negotiations Committee, which have terms that are set differently, so far from one Ministerial Conference to the next.