The Sixth Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization: Moving the Global Economy Forward

Article excerpt

TEN years ago, an organization was established to ensure that in an increasingly global economy, trade would flow smoothly, freely, fairly and predictably. That organization is the World Trade Organization (WTO). As an organization, the WTO fulfills its mandate by administering trade agreements, acting as a forum for trade negotiations, settling trade disputes, reviewing national trade policies, assisting developing countries in trade policy issues through technical assistance and training programs, and, cooperating with other international organizations.

At present, the WTO has nearly 150 members, accounting for over 97% of world trade. Around 30 others are negotiating membership. Given its huge membership, the WTO agrees on issues by consensus of its membership. A majority vote is also possible but it has never been used in the WTO, especially in the organizationas top-level decisionmaking body, the Ministerial Conference, which meets at least once every two years, the sixth staging of which is in Hong Kong from Dec. 13-18, 2005.

The main task before members in Hong Kong is to settle a range of questions that will shape the final agreement on the Doha Development Agenda, which members hope to complete at the end of 2006. …