"The WTO has been instrumental in the growth and prosperity of our economies," Minister Malcorra declared at the opening of the MC11 plenary session. "Its rules and agreements enshrine the fundamental principles of openness, transparency, predictability and good governance which have characterized and shaped our trade relations for over 20 years."
While the success of the WTO's recent Ministerial Conferences in Bali and Nairobi gave new impetus to the work of the organization, "today, we meet under different circumstances. Trade is often seen as a cause of concern rather than as a driver of growth and inclusion. We cannot ignore this reality, we must better understand the deep causes of these concerns and address them."
"We must be able to connect with our citizens who often fail to understand what we do and why we do it," she continued. "It is therefore essential that this Ministerial Conference strengthen the foundation of the WTO in order to ensure that over the next 20 years we may continue to benefit from the stability afforded by the multilateral trading system and to ensure these benefits reach all members."
Hundreds of trade diplomats, journalists and representatives of civil society are gathered in Buenos Aires for the latest biennial meeting of the WTO's highest decision-making body. MC11 will run until 13 December.
Discussions on issues at MC11 such as agriculture, development, fisheries subsidies, domestic regulation of services, and electronic commerce that commenced on 11 December are being facilitated by trade ministers from various WTO members appointed for each issue under discussion.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo told the plenary meeting that the role of the appointed ministers is to support and facilitate conversations, and report any developments to the full membership.
DG Azevêdo said that he and Minister Malcorra will convene informal Heads of Delegation meetings to allow the facilitators to report back to members on all of their consultations. These meetings will also be an opportunity for every minister to engage on every issue and take required decisions, he added.