A podium perspective: Experiences and challenges of chairing a working party

What is the perspective from the podium? what are the challenges that face the chairperson of an accession working party? The role of a chairperson of an accession working party is tough and challenging, and the functions of a chairperson can only be successfully exercised if he or she has the trust and confidence of parties involved. This role is best understood as that of a referee, assisted by the Secretariat. The accession of the Russian Federation demonstrated that, ‘the real work in WTO accession negotiations is done “beyond the gavel”. If the chair could only work with the gavel, the accession process would get nowhere.’ Critical to any progress in the complexity of accession negotiations is political will and the ability to compromise, as geopolitics may add a thick layer of complexity to the process. The reality of accession negotiations is that all participants have to be accommodated.

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