Other WTO Ministerials:
10–14 Sept. 2003
Doha 9–14 Nov. 2001
Seattle 30 Nov.–3 Dec. 1999
18-20 May 1998
9–13 Dec. 1996
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 main task before members in Hong Kong is to settle a range of questions that
will shape the final agreement of the Doha Development Agenda, which
members hope to complete, at the end of 2006.
Launched at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in November 2001, the Doha
Development Agenda includes negotiations on a range of subjects, and work on issues
related to the implementation of agreements arising from previous negotiations (the 1986–94 Uruguay Round, which
created the WTO).
For the negotiations on agriculture and non-agricultural market access, the
aim is to agree on formulas and other details that will determine the scale
of reductions in tariffs on thousands of products and on farm subsidies.
Also on the agenda are preparation for the final stages of negotiations in
services, various WTO rules and a number of development issues. Originally
intended for Hong Kong, some of the objectives are being delayed to early
2006 with Hong Kong as an important staging post.
Previous ministerial conferences have also been occasions when governments
approved new members to the WTO. Some of
the current talks seem likely to be concluded before or in Hong Kong.