Ministerial Conference

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 where 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]

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.[7] The initial agenda comprised both further trade liberalization and new rule-making, underpinned by commitments to strengthen substantial assistance to developing countries.[8]

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.[9]

See also

References

  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= (help)
  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. ^ The Economist, "In the twilight of Doha", 65
  8. ^ The Doha Development Agenda, European Commission
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ The GATT years: from Havana to Marrakesh, World Trade Organization
  11. ^ Timeline: World Trade Organization – A chronology of key events, BBC News
  12. ^ Brakman-Garretsen-Marrewijk-Witteloostuijn, Nations and Firms in the Global Economy, Chapter 10: Trade and Capital Restriction

External links

1999 Seattle WTO protests

1999 Seattle WTO protests, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Seattle, were a series of protests surrounding the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999, when members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) convened at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington on November 30, 1999. The Conference was to be the launch of a new millennial round of trade negotiations.

The negotiations were quickly overshadowed by massive and controversial street protests outside the hotels and the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. The protests were nicknamed "N30", akin to J18 and similar mobilizations. The large scale of the demonstrations, estimated at no fewer than 40,000 protesters, dwarfed any previous demonstration in the United States against a world meeting of any of the organizations generally associated with economic globalization (such as the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, or the World Bank).

Bali Package

The Bali Package is a trade agreement resulting from the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Bali, Indonesia on 3–7 December 2013. It is aimed at lowering global trade barriers and is the first agreement reached through the WTO that is approved by all its members. The package forms part of the Doha Development Round, which started in 2001.

Director-General of the World Trade Organization

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization is responsible for supervising the administrative functions of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Because World Trade Organizations' decisions are made by member states (through either a Ministerial Conference or through the General Council), the Director-General has little power over matters of policy - the role is primarily advisory and managerial. The Director-General supervises the WTO secretariat of about 700 staff and is appointed by WTO members for a term of four years.The current Director-General is Roberto Azevêdo of Brazil, since 1 September 2013.Before the creation of the WTO, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade had a series of Directors-General. Peter Sutherland was the last DG of GATT and the first of the WTO.

Make Trade Fair

Make Trade Fair is a campaign organized by Oxfam International to promote trade justice and fair trade among governments, institutions, and multinational corporations.

Organisation internationale de la Francophonie

The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), generally known as the Francophonie (French: La Francophonie [la fʁɑ̃kɔfɔni]), but also called International Organisation of the Francophonie in English language context, is an international organization representing countries and regions where French is a lingua franca or customary language, where a significant proportion of the population are francophones (French speakers), or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture.

The organization comprises 88 member states and governments; of these 54 states and governments are full members, 7 are associate members and 27 are observers. The term francophonie (with a lowercase "f"), or francosphere (often capitalized in English) also refers to the global community of French-speaking peoples, comprising a network of private and public organizations promoting equal ties among countries where French people or France played a significant historical role, culturally, militarily, or politically.

French geographer Onésime Reclus, brother of Élisée Reclus, coined the word Francophonie in 1880 to refer to the community of people and countries using the French language. Francophonie was then coined a second time by Léopold Sédar Senghor, founder of the Négritude movement, in the review Esprit in 1962, who assimilated it into Humanism.The modern organisation was created in 1970. Its motto is égalité, complémentarité, solidarité ("equality, complementarity, and solidarity"), a deliberate allusion to France's motto liberté, égalité, fraternité. Starting as a small club of northern French-speaking countries, the Francophonie has since evolved into a global organization whose numerous branches cooperate with its member states in the fields of culture, science, economy, justice, and peace.

Singapore issues

The "Singapore issues" refers to four working groups set up during the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1996 in Singapore. These groups are tasked with these issues: transparency in government procurement, trade facilitation (customs issues), trade and investment, and trade and competition. These issues were pushed at successive Ministerials by the European Union, Japan and Korea, and opposed by most developing countries. The United States was lukewarm about the inclusion of these issues, indicating that it could accept some or all of them at various times, but preferring to focus on market access. Disagreements between largely developed and developing economies prevented a resolution in these issues, despite repeated attempts to revisit them, notably during the 2003 Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, whereby no progress was made.Since, some progress has been achieved in the area of trade facilitation. In July 2004, WTO Members formally agreed to launch negotiations. Under the mandate of the so-called "July package", Members are directed to clarify and improve GATT Article V (Freedom of Transit), Article VIII (Fees and Formalities connected with Importation and Exportation), and Article X (Publication and Administration of Trade Regulations). The negotiations also aim to enhance technical assistance and capacity building in this area and to improve effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

To date, Members have submitted a great number of proposals under the mandate which provide the basis for the ongoing negotiations. The negotiations should be completed under the overall Doha Development Agenda timeline.

Timeline of the World Trade Organization

This is a timeline of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. It is the largest international economic organization in the world.The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments. The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals. Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.The WTO's current Director-General is Roberto Azevêdo, who leads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland. A trade facilitation agreement, part of the Bali Package of decisions, was agreed by all members on 7 December 2013, the first comprehensive agreement in the organization's history. On 23 January 2017, the amendment to the WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement marks the first time since the organization opened in 1995 that WTO accords have been amended, and this change should secure for developing countries a legal pathway to access affordable remedies under WTO rules.Studies show that the WTO boosted trade, and that barriers to trade would be higher in the absence of the WTO. The WTO has highly influenced the text of trade agreements, as "nearly all recent [preferential trade agreements (PTAs)] reference the WTO explicitly, often dozens of times across multiple chapters... in many of these same PTAs we find that substantial portions of treaty language—sometime the majority of a chapter—is copied verbatim from a WTO agreement."

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1996

The World Trade Organization's Ministerial Conference of 1996 was held in Singapore on December 9 - December 13, 1996. The inaugural meeting for the organisation since its formation. The event was hosted by the government of Singapore at the Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Suntec City.

The conference established four permanent working groups: transparency in government procurement, trade facilitation (customs issues), trade and investment, and trade and competition. These groups collectively are called the Singapore issues.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1998

The Second Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization was held in Geneva, Switzerland between 18 and 20 May 1998.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999

The WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 was a meeting of the World Trade Organization, convened at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington, USA, over the course of three days, beginning Tuesday, 30 November 1999. A week before the meeting, delegates admitted failure to agree on the agenda and the presence of deep disagreements with developing countries. Intended as the launch of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations that would have been called "The Millennium Round", the negotiations were marred by poor organization and controversial management of large street protests. Developing country representatives became resentful and uncooperative on being excluded from talks as the United States and the European Union attempted to cement a mutual deal on agriculture. The negotiations collapsed and were reconvened in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. The Doha venue enabled on-site public protest to be excluded. Necessary agenda concessions were made to include the interests of developing countries, which had by then further established their own negotiation blocs, such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. Thus, the current round is called the Doha Development Round, which has since 2008 remained stalled as a result of diverging perspectives regarding tariffs, agriculture, and non-tariff barriers such as agricultural subsidies.

Anti-globalization activists made headlines around the world in 1999, when they forced the Seattle WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 to end early with direct action tactics.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2001

The Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, also known as the WTO Fourth Ministerial Conference, was held at the Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort, Doha, Qatar from November 9–13, 2001. At this conference, ministers from all WTO members launched the Doha Development Agenda.

At the 2001 conference, trade ministers agreed to undertake a brand new round of multilateral trade negotiations and services The ministers passed two declarations. The first, the main declaration folded the ongoing negotiations in agriculture and services into a broader agenda, which is commonly known as the Doha Development Round. In addition. the Doha agenda included the topic of industrial tariffs, topics of interest to developing countries, changes to WTO rules, and other provisions. The second declaration dealt with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and allow government to be flexible of TRIPS to deal with health problems.The meeting took place just two months after the World Trade Center attack. As a result, some government officials called for greater political cohesion and saw the trade negotiations as a means toward that end. Some officials thought that a new round of multilateral trade negotiations could help a world economy weakened by recession

and terrorism-related uncertainty.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2005

The Sixth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, also known as the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference and abbreviated as MC6, was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai, Hong Kong from 13 to 18 December 2005. Representatives from 148 countries were expected to attend the event, as well as over 10,000 protesters led by the Hong Kong People’s Alliance on WTO and made up of largely South Korean farmers. Wan Chai Sports Ground and Wan Chai Cargo Handling Basin in Wan Chai North have been designated as protest zones. Victoria Park served as the starting point for the rallies. Police wielded sticks, used gas grenades and shot rubber bullets at some of the protesters. They arrested 910 people, 14 were charged, but none were convicted.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2009

The WTO General Council, on 26 May 2009, agreed to hold a seventh WTO ministerial conference session in Geneva from 30 November - 3 December 2009. A statement by chairman Amb. Mario Matus acknowledged that the prime purpose was to remedy a breach of protocol requiring two-yearly "regular" meetings, which had lapsed with the Doha Round failure in 2005, and that the "scaled-down" meeting would not be a negotiating session, but "emphasis will be on transparency and open discussion rather than on small group processes and informal negotiating structures". The general theme for discussion is "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment".

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2011

The WTO General Council held an eighth WTO ministerial conference session in Geneva from 15–3 December 2011.

Membership agreement where made for Russia, Samoa, and Montenegro, dependent on the ratification of those countries. The consent of Russia`s membership was seen as important, since the country had been the largest major economy outside the organization since the accession of China in 2001.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2013

The Ninth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference was held in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 7 December 2013. The conference was chaired by the Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan.In this conference, 159 members of World Trade Organization agreed to the Bali Package which aims to ease barriers to international trade.Yemen's agreement was also registered, dependent on the country's membership ratification.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2015

The Tenth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 15 to 19 December 2015. The conference was chaired by the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed.Afghanistan and Liberia acceded to the WTO, bringing the total membership of the organization to 164, with the total number of least-developed countries who have joined since 1995 rising to nine.

World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2017

The 11th World Trade Organization 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. The conference also led to the formation of working party to enable faster induction of South Sudan in the WTO.

GATT and WTO trade rounds[10][11][12]
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. Bali Package signed on the 7th December 2013.
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