Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference – Geneva: Resource page


Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference – Geneva: Resource page

Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference – Geneva: Resource page
Opening remarks by the Director-General ©WTO | Jay Louvion

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


The Russia-Ukraine war has triggered the use of export restrictions on essential food supplies by some WTO members prompting food insecurity and rising food prices by Noncedo Vutula and Thembekile Mlangeni - 13 Jun 2022

WTO Farm Talks on Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes: Consequences of the missed deadlines for a Permanent Solution by Noncedo Vutula - 18 May 2022


The Russia-Ukraine war has triggered the use of export restrictions on essential food supplies by some WTO members prompting food insecurity and rising food prices- 13 Jun 2022

The WTO Ministerial Conference MC12: A WTO response to the COVID-19 Pandemic- 13 Jun 2022

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.

Selected excerpts

“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.”

pdf MC12 Opening Session: Statement by Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, WTO Director General (91 KB) - 12 June 2022

Thematic areas

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 Declaration of Ministers of the Group of Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) (79 KB) - 14 June 2022

pdf Sanitary and Phytosanitary Declaration: Responding to modern SPS challenges - Revision (82 KB) - 13 June 2022

pdf Statement on Inclusive Trade and Gender Equality (55 KB) - 12 June 2022

pdf G-33 Ministerial Statement on WTO Agriculture Negotiations (58 KB) - 12 June 2022

pdf Ministerial Declaration on Cotton (146 KB) - 11 June 2022

pdf MC12 Draft Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement (114 KB) -10 June 2022

pdf MC12 Draft Ministerial Decision on Agriculture (88 KB) - 10 June 2022

pdf MC12 Draft Ministerial Declaration on Trade and Food Security (71 KB) - 10 June 2022

pdf Draft Ministerial Decision on World Food Programme Food Purchases Exemption from Export Prohibitions or Restrictions (63 KB) - 10 June 2022

pdf Draft Ministerial Declaration on the WTO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparedness for future pandemics (76 KB) - 10 June 2022

pdf Agreement on Fisheries subsidies: Draft text (131 KB) - 10 June 2022

pdf Agreement on Fisheries subsidies: Draft text - Addendum (267 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 Statement by H.E. Ms Assome Aminata Diatta, Minister of Trade and SMEs, Senegal (63 KB) - 12 June 2022

pdf African Ministers of Trade Declaration on WTO Issues (108 KB) - 11 June 2022

pdf Work programme on electronic commerce: Communication from India, Indonesia, South Africa (67 KB) - 9 June 2022

pdf Africa and Development: Communication from the African Group (80 KB) - 9 June 2022

pdf Public stockholding for food security purposes: Proposal by the African Group, ACP and G-33 (135 KB) - 6 June 2022

pdf OACPS Ministerial Declaration (126 KB) - 6 June 2022

pdf EAC Trade Ministers Statement on WTO (79 KB) - 31 May 2022

Civil society contributions

pdf CSOs call on ministers to reject current draft of TRIPS Decision (unofficial version) (43 KB) - 16 June 2022

pdf International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Statement (282 KB) - June 2022

pdf Letter signed by more than 150 groups demands WTO trade ministers not accept current TRIPS waiver draft (Doctors Without Borders) (57 KB) - 15 June 2022

pdf Open Letter from UN Human Rights and UNCTAD: Trade and the right to food - The path to SDG2 (631 KB) - 13 June 2022


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