Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference – Geneva: Resource page
WTO members secure unprecedented package of trade outcomes at MC12
WTO members successfully concluded the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva on 17 June, securing multilaterally negotiated outcomes on a series of key trade initiatives. The “Geneva Package” confirms the historical importance of the multilateral trading system and underlines the important role of the WTO in addressing the world’s most pressing issues, especially at a time when global solutions are critical.
"The package of agreements you have reached will make a difference to the lives of people around the world. The outcomes demonstrate that the WTO is, in fact, capable of responding to the emergencies of our time," said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. "They show the world that WTO members can come together, across geopolitical fault lines, to address problems of the global commons, and to reinforce and reinvigorate this institution. They give us cause to hope that strategic competition will be able to exist alongside growing strategic cooperation."
What role does the organisation have in an era of fracturing multinational alliances and fears of deglobalisation?
For almost three decades, the World Trade Organization has been lowering barriers to trade and smoothing the path of globalisation. Yet its ministerial meeting in Geneva this week could result in something that would do the opposite: new tariffs.
The question is what the WTO can do in its “MC12” meeting, the 12th ministerial conference in its history, to find consensus on some of the key issues under discussion: fishing subsidies, food security, Covid-19 vaccine equity and WTO governance.
“Leaders and ministers have not realised how significant failure to reach outcomes would be for global business,” says ICC secretary-general John Denton. “If ministers can’t spend real political capital in making the WTO work, they risk sinking the organisation into further irrelevancy.”
– The WTO’s lonely struggle to defend global trade, Financial Times, 13 June 2022
Last updated: 16 June 2022 | 10:00 GMT+2
tralac Analysis and commentary
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Director-General’s Opening Remarks
WTO members were urged at the opening session of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva on 12 June 2022 to demonstrate that the WTO can deliver for the international community and the people it serves. As the world grapples with uncertainty and crises on multiple fronts, this is a time to show that multilateralism works, said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during the Opening Session.
“As we grapple with uncertainty and crises on multiple fronts – the war in Ukraine and the inherent international security crisis that comes with it, the health, economic, environmental and geopolitical crises – this is a time to demonstrate that multilateralism works. A time to demonstrate that the WTO can deliver for the international community, and the people we serve.”
“Now, more than ever, the world needs WTO members to come together and deliver. We also need to deliver for those who seek to join us – the many countries, especially from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East who want to accede to the WTO.”
“If we do not deliver – if we allow or even embrace economic and regulatory fragmentation – the costs to your domestic constituencies will be substantial. Because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a different context, and I quote ‘We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now… Either we go up together, or we go down together’.”
“Trade is an instrument for development, it's not an end in itself. In fact, tapping into international markets for value-added goods and services has been history's most proven path towards development. But too many of our members have not been able to start or stay on this path.”
“Nelson Mandela said ‘It always seems impossible, until it is done.’ Please let's go and do it! Let's make MC12 a conference at whose end we can celebrate success and know that we laid the foundation for a life post-MC12, going towards MC13.”
MC12 has a number of thematic areas to be covered during the Conference. Briefing notes designed to provide background information on issues relevant to the Ministerial Conference are available to read online:
MC12 Documents, Draft Decisions and Declarations
The following non-exhaustive list of documents has been prepared for MC12:
pdf Outcome Document Draft (69 KB) - 10 June 2022
pdf Ministerial Statement on WTO reform (56 KB) - 14 June 2022
pdf Statement on Inclusive Trade and Gender Equality (55 KB) - 12 June 2022
pdf Ministerial Declaration on Cotton (146 KB) - 11 June 2022
pdf MC12 Draft Ministerial Decision on Agriculture (88 KB) - 10 June 2022
pdf Agreement on Fisheries subsidies: Draft text (131 KB) - 10 June 2022
Contributions from African countries and the African Group
African Trade Ministers have recognised the need to build coherence by ensuring that the African Group’s negotiating objectives at the WTO fully support continental objectives such as industrialisation, structural transformation and integration of the continent; taking note that, due to the unprecedented challenges facing African Countries, the existing rules based multilateral trading system is in need of a reform that addresses the structural deficiencies in the system while re-enforcing the principles of fairness, transparency and equity. They have committed to strengthen coordination in the African Group at the WTO on our common positions and to ensure that development is an integral component of all negotiating outcomes for all African economies.
Relevant documents and statements are available to download below.
pdf OACPS Ministerial Declaration (126 KB) - 6 June 2022
pdf EAC Trade Ministers Statement on WTO (79 KB) - 31 May 2022