Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (June09/05)
to hold seventh Ministerial Conference end November
Geneva, 27 May (Kanaga Raja) -- The WTO General Council on Tuesday decided to convene its seventh Ministerial Conference in Geneva from 30 November to 2 December, nearly four years after its last conference in Hong Kong-China in 2005.
The sixth WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Hong Kong-China in 2005, and another should have been held in 2007, but was not.
The general theme for discussion at the seventh Ministerial Conference shall be "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment."
to the Chair of the General Council, Amb. Mario Matus of
The intention is simply to fulfil the rules of procedure agreed for sessions of the Ministerial Conference adopted by the General Council in January 1995, he said.
In his consultations, he had suggested that this conference be based on three guiding principles - full participation, inclusiveness and transparency. The conference should be centered around plenary sessions, in which all Ministers participate equally.
According to trade officials, there seems to be wide agreement among members on setting an overall theme for discussions in the plenary sessions which Ministers could address in their statements. Some ideas have also been put forward for sub-themes which Ministers could discuss, and the format in which discussions in these sub-themes could take place.
Ambassador Matus said that a different sort of Ministerial Conference than from the recent past is being planned, one in which the emphasis would be on transparency and open discussion, rather than on small-group processes and informal negotiating structures.
According to the Chilean envoy, there would not be need for a Ministerial Declaration. But an effective way of recording the substance of Ministers' discussions and any convergence or conclusions they reach needs to be considered.
The General Council Chair will be holding consultations with members on issues concerning the format of discussions, and the election of officers.
He also stressed that given the global economic environment, the conference would be much leaner and economical than those held in the past. This departure from past Ministerial Conferences could help establish a new model of Ministerial-level meetings conducive to good governance and overall review of the WTO, and one that is not inextricably tied to any ongoing negotiations.
According to the Chair, this kind of scaled-down, no-frill, low-key meetings of Ministers on a regular biennial basis would require a similarly radical change in delegations' approach to the event, particularly in terms of the number of representatives that will be attending from each member state.
is important that Ministers come together on a regular basis every two
its communication (WT/GC/W/509),
It said that there would be no justification for continuing to postpone the regular convocation of the topmost body of the WTO, particularly in the current world economic and trade environment, which requires international cooperation, direct political involvement at the multilateral level, and strong and credible institutions.
to some trade diplomats,
the Swiss confederal system of cantonal governments, any issue can be
put to a popular referendum, if enough signatures are collected calling
for such a referendum. The referendum called by
While it may have no binding effect on the Geneva Canton, the authority to grant the permit, it would be difficult to ignore the consequences of an adverse popular vote in the city, particularly since the referendum will take place two weeks before the cantonal governmental election vote. +