Committee Programme and WTO Study Tour Report

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SELECT COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SELECT COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS
8 March 2006
COMMITTEE PROGRAMME AND WTO STUDY TOUR REPORT

Chairperson: Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC-Western Cape)

Documents handed out:
Draft First Term Committee Programme 2006
Committee Report on study tour to the WTO: 7 to 14 October 2005, dated 8 March 2006.

SUMMARY
The First Term Committee Programme for 2006 was discussed. The Chair explained the activities that would be dealt with in the coming months. The Committee made additions and amendments to the Programme. The Committee Report on the study tour to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland from the 7 to 14 October 2005 was discussed. The Committee deliberated the issues discussed at the WTO conference, pertaining to the Report. Adjustments were made to the Report and key issues were explained in further detail. The Committee agreed that a better understanding of the World Trade Organisation would be advantageous to the South African population.

MINUTES
Draft First Committee Programme 2006
The Chair explained that the Committee would discuss its study tour Report to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, and would consideration of the Committee Programme. She added that the Committee would be briefed by the Department of Minerals and Energy on the process of establishment of the First Regional Electricity Distributors on Wednesday the 22nd March 2006. She explained the reason for the constituency period from 3rd April to 28th April 2006 as leave provided for committee members to visit the Eastern Cape.

The Briefing on the Budget Vote for the Department of Foreign Affairs would be discussed after the month of April. The Chair requested that the entire committee be present at the Richards Bay oversight visit so that they could resolve unfinished business.

She mentioned the briefing by the Department of Foreign affairs on the outcomes and challenges of the June 2006 G8 Summit in the United States. The Chair invited committee members to make any additions or amendments to the Committee Programme.

Mr D Mkono (ANC-Eastern Cape) referred to the Briefing on the Consumer Protection Policy dated the 14th of March 2006. He asked if the Committee had as yet obtained the Policy and he moved to pass the amendment made to the Policy.

Ms M Tempa (ANC-Mpumalanga) seconded the amendment made to the Policy.

The Committee Programme was adopted with the adjustments.

WTO Study Tour Report
The Chair asked Members if they had any additions or corrections to the first page of the report.

Mr J Sibiya (ANC-Limpopo Province) responded to point B on page one, that the information stated should have indicated the levels of decision making in the WTO, as well as how the WTO contributed to the decision making process with regards to issues relating to administering the WTO trade agreements.

The Chair agreed with Mr Sibiya and noted that Ms G Abdullatief (committee secretary) would make a provision for these adjustments. On point three of page two an addition would be made to the Goods Council, Services Council and Intellectual Property (TRIPS) council report to the General Council. How the various clusters and agricultural issues would be incorporated into these agreements were discussed.
She added that in point five of page five, the "three pillars" were crucial to the decision-making process and could make or break a decision.

Mr Sibiya mentioned that in the event of a matter arising, that the committee be provided with a copy of the resolution to see what had been said at the conference.

Mr Mkono referred to point E on page six, regarding the recommendations made. He indicated that he had no problem with the committee’s request from the Department of Trade and Industry to brief its members on how the WTO as an international body is beneficial to the people at grassroots level. He was concerned that the recommendations were not based on what happened in Geneva, and was concerned by the chronological order of the events.

Ms Temba commented that she was unaware of who attended the WTO meetings and that the organizational structure of the WTO was unclear to her.

The Chair replied that it had been a study tour and an opportunity to meet foreign officials from other G8 countries. She discussed the South African delegation that attended the WTO conference in Hong Kong. The members from that delegation had been from the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Mr Sibiya added that it was important to attend the conferences to gain knowledge directly from the "horses mouth." He commented on point (b) on page seven that the committee should find out what "grassroots" have been discussed. He stated that there needed to be two-way conversation in communicating the WTO to people in the provinces.

The Chair responded that the issue dealt with in point (b) was further discussed in point (c) on page seven.

Mr Mkono indicated that there was no benefit gained from the agricultural perspective as the WTO conference had its own agenda, which was not in line with the key issues of the Committee and did not achieve anything substantial.

The Chair replied that the economic and political agendas were entwined.

Mr Sibiya emphasised that the committee needed to educate our people and discuss with them the actual state of the organisation and workshop.

The Chair responded that they would not discuss the details of the workshop but that a workshop would be held.

Mr N Hendricks (UIF-Western Cape) added that he was pleased with the progress made with the workshop.

The meeting was adjourned.

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