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The decision to go to Hong Kong, China was agreed in the General
Council. Members also agreed to consider the date after a clearer picture
has emerged on what happens next in the Doha Development Agenda talks.
Hong Kong, China thanked members for accepting the invitation and agreed
that the decision on the date should be delayed. But Hong Kong, China
reminded members that it will need about a year to prepare for the
Under the WTO Agreement, the organization’s founding charter, Ministerial
Conferences have to be held at least once every two years. The last
conference, in Cancún, Mexico, was on 10–14 September 2003, which means the
next conference should be held before the end of 2005.
Hong Kong, China’s invitation was circulated to WTO members on 25 August 2003 as General Council document WT/GC/72:
SIXTH SESSION OF THE
Communication from Hong Kong, China
The following communication,
dated 21 August 2003, has been received by the Director-General from the
Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology of Hong Kong, China.
It is my great honour to inform you, and through you the other Members
of the World Trade Organization, that the Government of the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region invites the WTO to host the Sixth Session
of its Ministerial Conference (MC6) in Hong Kong, China.
Hong Kong, China is aware that negotiations under the Doha Development
Agenda will reach a critical juncture in the coming year and Members
will need to deliberate carefully on the precise timing of MC6. If Hong
Kong, China should have the great pleasure and privilege of our offer to
host MC6 meeting with the approval of all WTO Members, we would be
prepared to be flexible about the timing of MC6, although judging from
experience of previous hosts, we consider that for a successful
full-scale Ministerial Conference to be properly organized, around one
year’s lead-time for preparations will probably be required.
I should be grateful if you would transmit our invitation to all WTO
Members and Observers.
Traditionally, the date and venue of a Ministerial Conference is agreed at
the previous conference. However, at the end of the Cancún conference, on 14
September 2003, the ministers asked the General Council chairperson to
continue consultations on when and where the next conference will be held.
They noted “with appreciation” that before the General Council meeting in
August, Hong Kong China had offered to host the next meeting. However,
Chairperson Luis Ernesto Derbez, Mexico’s foreign minister, noted that
because members were preoccupied with the contents of the Cancún conference,
they had not been able to discuss the dates and venue seriously, except in
informal contacts with some delegations.
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