Minister Al Zeyoudi, who attended the General Council meeting, said: “The UAE is fully committed to working closely with all member states and ensuring the success of MC13 set to be held in Abu Dhabi in 2024. However, this leaves us with less than six months to forge consensus on a range of complex topics ahead of MC13. During this critical time, we must ensure that our ministerial deliberations are both decisive and efficient.”
“It has become clear that trade policy extends far beyond the scope of trade itself,” he continued. “It is about shaping our common future that takes into account the environment, global health and poverty. It is our collective responsibility to contribute to a predictable, rules-based and open trade and investment environment that creates prosperity for all. And this is precisely why success at MC13 is so imperative.”
Ambassador Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme of Botswana, the chair of the General Council, said Minister Al Zeyoudi's presence at the meeting and the remarks he delivered “are a clear sign of your country's commitment towards the Organization and our shared objective of a successful MC13.”
“We very much look forward to working with you as we prepare for the Ministerial Conference, and at the Conference itself,” Ambassador Molokomme added.
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the General Council chair, the Deputy Directors-General and herself would be working closely with the UAE minister and the forthcoming MC13 vice chairpersons. “We all look forward to this very fruitful collaboration and successful delivery,” she told members.
The customary practice has been for the minister of the government hosting a Ministerial Conference outside Geneva to be elected as Ministerial Chairperson. WTO members accepted the UAE's offer to host MC13 at a General Council meeting in December 2022.
Earlier in the day, DG Okonjo-Iweala and Minister Al Zeyoudi signed the 13th Ministerial Conference Agreement. The Agreement between the Government of the UAE and the WTO defines the roles and responsibilities involved in organizing the Ministerial Conference. They also discussed various aspects of preparations for MC13 and reiterated the importance of a successful outcome for all WTO members, the UAE and the wider region.
The Ministerial Conference is the WTO's top decision-making body and the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the organization instructs members to hold one at least every two years. The event is attended by trade ministers and other senior officials from the organization’s 164 members.
The previous Ministerial Conference (MC12) was held in Geneva in June 2022.