General Council Chair Dacio Castillo of Honduras has selected Ambassador David Walker of New Zealand to be a facilitator responsible for leading WTO members in finding a multilateral and horizontal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ambassador Walker is a former Chair of the General Council and the Dispute Settlement Body. In 2019, he was also chosen as facilitator by then General Council Chair Junichi Ihara to help WTO members resolve their differences on the functioning of the Appellate Body.
Discussions among members on the WTO response to COVID-19 have covered a range of areas including intellectual property, trade facilitation, export restrictions and monitoring of supply chain performance. Chair Castillo said his consultations with delegates had revealed there was a need for all these issues to be channeled “into a horizontal, multilateral process”. Choosing a facilitator, he said, “would not only help us streamline and organize our work but also ensure transparency and inclusiveness”.
Of Ambassador Walker, Chair Castillo said he “needs no introduction, and we are very privileged to be able to count on his wisdom again”.
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala supported the Chair’s decision. “I strongly welcome this decision to select Amb. Walker and I believe that this selection will set us on the right path to finding the best WTO response to the pandemic by our year-end Ministerial Conference,” she said.
Ambassador Walker, who will serve as facilitator in his personal capacity, said he was ready for the challenge that awaits him. “I hope I can repay the trust and confidence you have shown in me and discharge my responsibilities in the manner you have outlined Mr Chair. I hope this will lead to the kind of success that Director-General Ngozi has encouraged us all to achieve,” he said.