WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

21 May 2002

WTO organizes first ever WTO Ministerial Trade Conference for Central Asian and Caucasus Countries

Future challenges and opportunities for Central Asian and Caucasus countries in integrating into the multilateral trading system will be the focus of discussions at a two day Ministerial-level Trade Conference to take place in Tbilisi, Georgia from 21 to 22 May 2002.

This is the first ever WTO-related Conference at Ministerial-level in the region. The Conference is organised by the WTO and hosted by the Government of Georgia. WTO Director-General, Mr. Mike Moore, will launch the Conference with President of the Republic of Georgia, Mr. H.E Eduard Shevardnadze.

“Never before has the WTO Secretariat organised a Ministerial Conference of this kind in the region. We have done too little in the past. More attention needs to be devoted to this region that has always occupied a vital position in the world. This Conference will help redress this neglect and contribute towards its further integration into the multilateral trading system. The objectives of the Conference are two-fold. First, to assist countries, which are either in the process of joining or have recently joined, to participate successfully in the multilateral trading system. Second, to help identify ways to support countries’ preparations for, and participation in, the current negotiating process.”, Mr. Mike Moore said today.

“Today, every government wants foreign direct investment. Many countries are now recognizing that the way to attract foreign direct investment is to demonstrate that their trade regimes are stable and credible. One important way in which countries can demonstrate their commitment to policy stability, predictability and good governance is through membership of the WTO. This shows potential investors, both domestic and foreign-based, that countries are prepared to abide by an agreed set of rules and understandings”.

The Conference provides Ministers from the region with a unique opportunity to consider critical issues relating to their countries' participation in the WTO multilateral trading system. Discussions will focus in separate sessions on enhancing trade and investment opportunities, the Doha Development Agenda, regionalism, technical cooperation and accessions. Trade and finance Ministers and high-level officials from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, and international organizations and agencies working in the region are scheduled to participate.

> Full text of Mr. Moore's statement