WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

14 September 2001

Geneva Week 2001 Successful meeting focuses on preparations for Doha

At the conclusion of the 3rd Annual ‘Geneva Week’ on Friday 14 September, Director-General, Mike Moore, called on delegates to the meeting, including representatives of 34 WTO Member and Observer Governments, to participate actively in final preparations for the WTO Ministerial Conference to take place in Doha, Qatar, in November.

“I want to thank representatives for your attendance at Geneva Week”, said Mr. Moore, in remarks prepared for the final session of the meeting. “I want to thank you for your enthusiasm and participation in our discussions. I hope you have found this event useful and I hope the information shared assists your preparations for the Ministerial Conference.”

“I am aware of the constraints you face. Representation in Geneva is tough to achieve for small, financially constrained Governments. One of my main objectives as Director-General has been to improve the level and quality of participation of all our Members. For non-resident Members, we have developed a range of activities such as Geneva Week to keep you informed and assist your involvement in our processes. It is vitally important that you utilise these initiatives and continue to engage actively in the negotiations leading to, and at, Doha.”

A yearly event, Geneva Week is designed to bring up to date on WTO activities those Members and Observers who are unable regularly to attend WTO meetings in Geneva. The first Geneva Week took place in 1999. Financial support for this year's Geneva Week was provided by the governments of Germany, Republic of Korea and the United States.

Preparations for Doha was a principal focus of Geneva Week. Participants received briefings from the Director-General and the Chairman of the General Council, Mr. Stuart Harbinson. A number of Geneva-based Ambassadors also gave their perspectives on the process. In addition, there were briefings from the Secretariat on administrative arrangements for the Conference and also on key substantive issues such as implementation-related concerns, mandated negotiations on agriculture and services, intellectual property, market access, trade and investment, trade and competition, standards and technical assistance.

Relations with regional and other intergovernmental organizations was another key issue in this year's Geneva Week. More than 30 organizations took part in the briefings.

“I want to offer a special word of thanks to our friends from the other international agencies who were able to join us this week and share your knowledge and expertise”, said Mr. Moore. “The presence of representatives of regional organizations also enriched our discussions.”

In addition to Geneva Week, the Secretariat provides significant technical help to Members and Observers without permanent representation in Geneva. A “Trade Resources” website has been established to provide users with relevant statistics, quotes, publications and research links on the WTO and trade-related issues. The site helps writers, researchers and policy makers with easy-to-use and comprehensive information on current international trade issues and developments. Officials can also download documents from the regular WTO website in English, French or Spanish.

The Secretariat also sends regular WTO news summaries to non-resident delegations, giving them a thorough overview of work in the WTO. An internal secretariat task-force on small economies is being created, which aims to coordinate WTO activities in favour of non-resident Members and Members with small and capacity-constrained missions. Over the past twelve months, the WTO has had important conferences and workshops including in Gabon for African countries; Fiji for countries of the Asia Pacific; Jamaica for Caribbean countries; and Guatemala for Central American countries. Secretariat staff have travelled to other European capitals where non-residents are present to brief them on on-going work in the WTO.


Thirty four Governments participated in this year's 'Geneva Week'. Antigua & Barbuda; Armenia; Bahamas; Burkina Faso; Cambodia; Chad; Comoros; Dominica; Fiji; The Gambia; Grenada; Guinea Bissau; Laos, P.D.R. of; Macau, China; Malawi; Maldives; Mali; Namibia; Niger; Papua New Guinea; Saint Kitts & Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent & The Grenadines; Samoa; Sao Tome & Principe; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Solomon Islands; Suriname; Swaziland; Togo; Tonga; Uzbekistan; Vanuatu.