Canada To Host WTO Senior Officials 'Mini-Ministerial' In Geneva April 18-19

Original Publication Date: 
17 March, 2005
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Canada to Host WTO Senior Officials 'Mini-Ministerial' in Geneva April 18-19
By Daniel Pruzin
International Trade Daily
18 March 2005

GENEVA--Canada will host a meeting of senior trade officials in Geneva April 18-19 as part of preparations for the next World Trade Organization "mini-ministerial" gathering in early May, trade diplomats told BNA March 17.

The diplomats said the list of invitees for the senior officials meeting has not been finalized, although the number of participating countries is expected to total around 30. Such meetings have always included representatives from the Quad Group (the United States, the European Union, Japan and Canada) as well as major WTO players such as China, Brazil, India, and Australia.

Top trade officials from the same group of countries are due to meet for a mini-ministerial gathering in Paris May 4 on the fringes of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's annual meeting. The meeting is one in a series of gatherings taking place over the course of
2005 to prepare for the WTO's important biennial ministerial conference scheduled for Dec. 13-18 in Hong Kong.

A mini-ministerial took place in Kenya March 2-4, and the Chinese government is planning to hold another one in early July. Officials said the venue for the latter meeting has not yet been determined, although it was not expected to take place in Beijing or Shanghai.

Doubts Over Zambia Meeting in June

Officials said Zambia has also offered to host another mini-ministerial in Africa in late June but that there were doubts among trade diplomats about the timing of that meeting, which would coincide with a gathering of trade ministers from least developed countries.
The agenda for the senior officials meeting has not been finalized by Canada, although officials said it was expected to focus on preparations for the Paris mini-ministerial, which is itself due to focus on the main Doha Round issues of agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA), services, WTO rules, and development issues.

WTO members have set for themselves the goal of making enough progress on these issues in Hong Kong--including agreements on the formulas and figures for tariff cuts in agriculture and NAMA--to would allow for the completion of the round in 2006.

The Paris meeting is due to take place at the Australian Embassy and is scheduled to run only four hours. The major trade powers, however, are also expected to take advantage of the gathering to hold bilateral and small group consultations on the sidelines.

A mini-ministerial at the OECD meeting in Paris last May resulted in the emergence of the so-called "Five Interested Parties" (the United States, EU, Australia, Brazil, and India) which played a key role in forging a subsequent WTO framework deal on agriculture in late July.