The Multilateral Trading System:

50 years of achievement

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Slide 17

Ultimate responsibility: the ministerial conference

The WTO’s topmost decision-making body is the ministerial conference. This met for the first time in December 1996 in Singapore, where modern facilities welcomed an ever-expanding membership.

Here, current WTO Director-General Renato Ruggiero is seen addressing the Singapore conference in person from the podium and in video.

In Singapore, ministers examined how the WTO agreements are being put into practice. They also started exploratory work in the WTO on new issues.

Among these are: competition policy, the relationship between trade and investment, and trade “facilitation” - helping trade flow more smoothly by improving information and removing bureaucratic and other obstacles that are not currently handled by the WTO’s agreements.

The ministerial conferences are held no more than two years apart. The second meeting is in Geneva in May 1998, when 50 years of the multilateral trade system - the system set up with the creation of GATT - will be celebrated.

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