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  • WTO to hold 8th ministerial meet in Geneva

    Published on October 22, 2010

    The World Trade Organisation’s eighth ministerial summit will take place from 15th to 17th September, 2011, in Geneva, despite the continuing uncertainty over when Doha Development Agenda (DDA) trade negotiations will be concluded.

    At a meeting of the WTO’s powerful General Council, which oversees day-to-day business of the trade body, Chair Ambassador John Gero of Canada announced the dates for the eight meeting, but did not indicate the theme for the three- day meeting, spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters on Thursday.

    The last ministerial meeting took place in December, 2009, in Geneva.

    It was a much more scaled-down event than previous ministerial meetings, which are often marked by violent protests on the streets, acrimonious showdowns within conference rooms and weak outcomes.

    Since the infamous third ministerial meeting in Seattle in 1999, which witnessed unprecedented violence on the streets, governments have been somewhat reluctant to host the ministerial meetings.

    The fourth ministerial meeting in 2001 in Doha, Qatar, resulted in the launching of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations, which were scheduled to be concluded in three years by end-2004.

    The current WTO Chief, Pascal Lamy, who was then the European Union Trade Commissioner, and present World Bank President Robert B Zoellick, who was then the United States Trade Representative, worked overnight to launch the Doha Round.

    The former Indian trade minister, the late Murasoli Maran, however, opposed the launch of the round, saying it was too early to embark on a new round of trade negotiations without adjusting the Uruguay Round commitments.

    The fifth ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in 2003, collapsed like a house of cards because of contentious issues related to investment, government procurement, trade and competition and trade facilitation.

    Hong Kong, which hosted the sixth ministerial meeting in 2005, also witnessed massive violence.

    The ministers had evinced hope that the Doha Round could be concluded in the following year, but were proved wrong once again after unbridgeable differences surfaced between the United States on one side and the European Union, Brazil and India on the other.

    The seventh ministerial meeting in Geneva last year was an event where the ministers met and made statements but didn’t enter into round-the-clock negotiations as the US was not satisfied with what was on the table.