Briefing note: What is a Ministerial Conference?

The highest decision-making body of the WTO is the Ministerial Conference, which usually meets every two years. The Ministerial Conference can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.

Updated: November 2013

THIS EXPLANATION is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.

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The Ninth Ministerial Conference will be held at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 6 December 2013. The inaugural session is currently planned to take place in the afternoon of the first day, Tuesday 3 December, followed by two working days, 4 and 5 December, with the closing ceremony on the final day, Friday 6 December.

The provisional agenda includes the following:

  • “Overview of Activities of the WTO”. Under this item of the agenda, Ministers will have the opportunity to review the operation and functioning of the multilateral trading system and to make general statements related thereto. Documentation available to delegations for the overview of WTO activities will include reports from Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, the General Council and other WTO bodies on activities under their respective mandates. 
  • “Action by Ministers”. Ministers are expected under this item to take any action which they may deem necessary for the work of the WTO, including decisions on the accession of new members to the WTO Agreement.

Officers. The Ninth Ministerial Conference will be chaired by Indonesia's Trade Minister, Gita Wirjawan. The vice-chairs are Rwanda's Trade and Industry Minister, François Kanimba, the United Kingdom's Trade and Investment Minister, Lord Green, and Peru's Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister, Magali Silva Velarde-Álvarez.

Participants. All 159 members of the WTO are expected to send delegations headed by their respective Ministers to the Ninth Ministerial Conference. Also participating would be delegations from the 25 observer governments, most of which are in various stages of the WTO membership negotiations. A number of international organizations, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the International Telecommunication Union, are expected to attend.

The previous eight Ministerial Conferences were held in:


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