The Ministerial Conference is the organization’s highest-level decision-making body. It meets “at least once every two years”, as required by the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization — the WTO’s founding charter.
The Conference is chaired by Mr John Tsang, Secretary of Commerce, Industry and Technology of Hong Kong, China. A key role in these meetings is expected to be played by Mr Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO and Chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee of the DDA negotiations in Geneva. The three Vice-Chairpersons are: Dr Martin Bartenstein, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Labour of Austria; Mr Idris Waziri, Minister of Commerce of Nigeria; and The Hon. Antoinette Miller, Senior Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados. The formal plenary sessions of the Conference, which are open to the media and NGOs, are chaired by one of the above.
The plenary sessions continue throughout the duration of the Conference and consist of formal statements by each minister in turn, delivered orally and broadcast live, outlining each member government’s view of the current state of affairs in world trade and in the DDA negotiations. There is no discussion, negotiation, or spontaneous exchange of views in the plenary sessions; they are formal statements for the record.