What is the Cancún Ministerial Conference?

Officially, this meeting is the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference to be held since the WTO was created on 1 January 1995. It is in Cancún Mexico, 10–14 September 2003.

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.

Previous ministerial conferences

Singapore: 9–13 December 1996
Geneva: 18 and 20 May 1998
Seattle: 30 November–3 December 1999
Doha: 9–13 November 2001

The Cancún meeting’s special task is to “take stock of progress in the [Doha Development Agenda] negotiations, provide any necessary political guidance and take decisions as necessary.” This is spelt out in the declaration (paragraph 45) that ministers issued at the previous ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar in November 2001.

Ministers will also examine progress in other areas of the Doha work programme, including “implementation” issues. And they are likely to approve some new members.

Detailed explanations of the issues before the Cancún conference will be available on the website closer to the start of the conference.


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Provisional agenda

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. In accordance with the practice at previous Ministerial Conferences, statements by Ministers are expected to be limited to not more than five minutes. Facilities will be available for circulating longer presentations in writing. Observer governments wishing to address the Ministerial Conference will be invited to speak after Members. Documentation available to delegations for the overview of WTO activities will include reports from the General Council and other WTO bodies on activities under their respective mandates.

Items Proposed by Members for Inclusion in the Agenda

Poverty Reduction — Sectoral Initiative in Favour of Cotton — Joint Proposal by Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali

Action by Ministers

Ministers are expected under this item of the agenda to take any action which they may deem necessary for the work of the WTO. This is expected to include a Ministerial text and decisions, including decisions on the accession of new Members to the WTO Agreement.

Date and Venue of the Sixth Session

Election of Officers