Ministerial Conference

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The Ministerial Conference is the top decision making body of the World Trade Organization (WTO).[1] There have been eleven ministerial conferences from 1996 to 2017, usually every two years.

Ministerial conferences

# Date[1] Host City
1st 9–13 December 1996  Singapore
2nd 18–20 May 1998 Switzerland Geneva, Switzerland
3rd 30 November – 3 December 1999 United States Seattle, United States
4th 9–14 November 2001 Qatar Doha, Qatar
5th 10–14 September 2003 Mexico Cancún, Mexico
6th 13–18 December 2005  Hong Kong
7th 30 November – 2 December 2009 Switzerland Geneva, Switzerland
8th 15–17 December 2011 Switzerland Geneva, Switzerland
9th 3–6 December 2013 Indonesia Bali, Indonesia
10th 15–18 December 2015 Kenya Nairobi, Kenya
11th 10–13 December 2017 Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina

First ministerial conference

The inaugural ministerial conference was held in Singapore in 1996. Its primary purpose was to initiate an international effort among global trading nations to overhaul the structure and mechanisms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) while preserving the considerable progress and success achieved by that system since its inception in 1948.

Disagreements, largely between developed and developing economies, emerged over four issues initiated by this conference; afterward, these were collectively referred to as the "Singapore issues".

Second ministerial conference

Was held in Geneva in Switzerland.

Third ministerial conference

The third conference in Seattle, United States ended in failure, with massive demonstrations and police and National Guard crowd control efforts drawing worldwide attention.

Fourth ministerial conference

The fourth conference was held in Doha In Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. The Doha Development Round was launched at the conference. The conference also approved the joining of China, which became the 143rd member to join.

Fifth ministerial conference

The ministerial conference was held in Cancún, Mexico, aiming at forging agreement on the Doha round. An alliance of 22 southern states, the G20 (led by India, China[2] and Brazil), resisted demands from the North for agreements on the so-called "Singapore issues" and called for an end to agricultural subsidies within the EU and the US. The talks broke down without progress.

Sixth ministerial conference

The sixth WTO Conference Ministerial was held in Hong Kong from 13 December – 18 December 2005. It was considered vital if the four-year-old Doha Development Agenda negotiations were to move forward sufficiently to conclude the round in 2006. In this meeting, countries agreed to phase out all their agricultural export subsidies by the end of 2013, and terminate any cotton export subsidies by the end of 2006. Further concessions to developing countries included an agreement to introduce duty-free, tariff-free access for goods from the Least Developed Countries, following the Everything But Arms initiative of the European Union — but with up to 3% of tariff lines exempted. Other major issues were left for further negotiation to be completed by the end of 2006.

Seventh ministerial conference

Was held 30 November – 2 December 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland. The general theme for discussion was "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment".[3]

Eighth ministerial conference

Was held 15–17 December 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. Membership agreement were made for Russia, Samoa, and Montenegro.[4]

Ninth ministerial conference

Was held 3–6 December 2013 in Bali, Indonesia. 159 members of World Trade Organization agreed to the Bali Package which eases barriers to international trade.[5]

Tenth ministerial conference

The WTO's 10th Ministerial Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015. The completion of Afghanistan and Liberia's accession to the WTO was on the agenda. It culminated in the adoption of the "Nairobi Package", a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries (LDCs). The Conference was chaired by Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed.

Eleventh ministerial conference

The WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 11 to 13 December 2017. It was chaired by Minister Susana Malcorra of Argentina. The Conference ended with a number of ministerial decisions, including on fisheries subsidies and e-commerce duties, and a commitment to continue negotiations in all areas.[6]

Twelfth ministerial conference

The agreement to host the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan was signed on October 30, 2019. The Ministerial Conference is scheduled for June 8-11, 2020.[7]

Doha Round

The WTO launched the current round of negotiations, the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) or Doha Round, at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. The Doha round was to be an ambitious effort to make globalisation more inclusive and help the world's poor, particularly by slashing barriers and subsidies in farming.[8] The initial agenda comprised both further trade liberalization and new rule-making, underpinned by commitments to strengthen substantial assistance to developing countries.[9]

The negotiations have been highly contentious and agreement has not been reached, despite the intense negotiations at several Ministerial Conferences and at other sessions. As of 2008, disagreements still continued over several key areas including agriculture subsidies.[10]

GATT and WTO trade rounds[11][12][13]
Name Start Duration Countries Subjects covered Achievements
Switzerland Geneva April 1947 7 months 23 Tariffs Signing of GATT, 45,000 tariff concessions affecting $10 billion of trade
France Annecy April 1949 5 months 34 Tariffs Countries exchanged some 5,000 tariff concessions
United Kingdom Torquay September 1950 8 months 34 Tariffs Countries exchanged some 8,700 tariff concessions, cutting the 1948 tariff levels by 25%
Switzerland Geneva II January 1956 5 months 22 Tariffs, admission of Japan $2.5 billion in tariff reductions
Switzerland Dillon September 1960 11 months 45 Tariffs Tariff concessions worth $4.9 billion of world trade
Switzerland Kennedy May 1964 37 months 48 Tariffs, anti-dumping Tariff concessions worth $40 billion of world trade
Japan Tokyo September 1973 74 months 102 Tariffs, non-tariff measures, "framework" agreements Tariff reductions worth more than $300 billion achieved
Uruguay Uruguay September 1986 87 months 123 Tariffs, non-tariff measures, rules, services, intellectual property, dispute settlement, textiles, agriculture, creation of WTO, etc. The round led to the creation of WTO, and extended the range of trade negotiations, leading to major reductions in tariffs (about 40%) and agricultural subsidies, an agreement to allow full access for textiles and clothing from developing countries, and an extension of intellectual property rights.
Qatar Doha November 2001 ? 159 Tariffs, non-tariff measures, agriculture, labor standards, environment, competition, investment, transparency, patents etc. The round has not yet concluded. The last agreement to date, the Bali Package, was signed on 7 December 2013.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Ministerial Conferences". World Trade Organization. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  2. ^ Five Years of China WTO Membership. EU and US Perspectives about China's Compliance with Transparency Commitments and the Transitional Review Mechanism
  3. ^ "http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news09_e/gc_chair_stat_26may09_e.htm WTO to hold 7th Ministerial Conference on 30 November-2 December 2009". World Trade Organization. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2013. External link in |title=
  4. ^ "Day 3: Samoa and Montenegro join Russia with membership agreed, as ministers wrap up conference". WTO. 17 December 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Historic trade package sealed at WTO Bali meeting". Global Times. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  6. ^ https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/mc11_e/mc11_e.htm
  7. ^ "Kazinform". Kazakh Minister of Trade and Integration meets ambassadors of WTO member countries.
  8. ^ The Economist, "In the twilight of Doha", 65
  9. ^ The Doha Development Agenda, European Commission
  10. ^ Fergusson, Ian F. (18 January 2008). "World Trade Organization Negotiations: The Doha Development Agenda" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 26 July 2008.
  11. ^ The GATT years: from Havana to Marrakesh, World Trade Organization
  12. ^ Timeline: World Trade Organization – A chronology of key events, BBC News
  13. ^ Brakman-Garretsen-Marrewijk-Witteloostuijn, Nations and Firms in the Global Economy, Chapter 10: Trade and Capital Restriction

External links

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