WTO’s 8th Ministerial Conference takes place in Geneva 15 to 17 December 2011. The Ministerial Conference is the WTO’s top level decision-making body and it meets at least once every two years. Foreign Minister Støre heads the Norwegian Delegation to the Ministerial Conference, which will discuss the way forward for the Doha Development Agenda as well as welcoming Russia as a new member, among other issues.
The members of the WTO have not been able to make the necessary progress in the Doha negotiations that have now been running for 10 years. Even if the Ministerial Conference is not expected to make any decisions with regards to the Doha negotiations we can expect discussions concerning the way to move forward.
The Members of the WTO agree that the negotiations are at an impasse but it is important to bear in mind that the WTO is much more than a negotiating forum. Especially in times of global economic difficulties it is important to uphold the WTO’s role as a bulwark against protectionism. The WTO also serves a vital role as an organ for resolving trade disputes under its Dispute Settlement Understanding.
The 8th Ministerial Conference will welcome four new member countries, the Russian Federation, Samoa, Vanuatu and Montenegro, bringing the total number of the member countries to 157. Russia is the last large economy to join after finishing 18 years of negotiations this autumn. The Ministerial Conference is also expected to approve decisions on LDC-friendly proposals regarding Services and Accessions.
For more information concerning the up-coming Ministerial Conference: