ICTSD: Crunch Time in Geneva as Trade Negotiators Prepare for WTO Ministerial




Dec 3, 2015 | Source: ICTSD

Less than two weeks remain before trade ministers begin their biennial conference in Nairobi, Kenya, with WTO members still deeply divided on specific deliverables and how to address the organisation’s future negotiating work, including the Doha Round.

The Nairobi ministerial conference is scheduled for 15-18 December, leaving little time remaining to sort out remaining differences in Geneva before officials board planes for the Kenyan capital.

With that timing in mind, members have spent the past six weeks putting forward a raft of textual proposals for the meeting’s outcome document, which they aim to make a ministerial declaration. The vast variety and competing priorities of such proposals has, however, reportedly proven extremely difficult to navigate, particularly as the ministerial draws ever nearer.

Various delegates say that the week ahead is set to be crucial in the negotiations, with meetings of the agriculture, rules, and development negotiating groups all scheduled between now and Friday.

Discussions at the WTO General Council this Monday, 30 November on the agenda item relating to the Doha negotiations – specifically, the report by Director-General Roberto Azevêdo in his capacity as chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee – were suspended, with a report from the meeting indicating that members would revert to it “in due course” without specifying a date, though some sources suggested this could resume late this week.

Meanwhile, the WTO has released an overall programme outlining generally the timeline for the ministerial, which will formally kick off on the afternoon of 15 December and feature various plenary sessions and two accession ceremonies – for Afghanistan and Liberia – as well as the opening and closing events.

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