China Looking at Holding WTO Meeting in Central Coastal City of Qingdao on July 7-8

Original Publication Date: 
28 March, 2005
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China Looking at Holding WTO Meeting in Central Coastal City of Qingdao on July 7-8
WTO Reporter
March 29, 2005, ISSN 1529-4153

Members of the World Trade Organization have been invited by the Chinese government to attend a WTO "mini-ministerial" meeting in the coastal city of Qingdao on July 7-8 subject to confirmation by enough invitees, sources said March 28.

The sources said that the agenda for the meeting, which would bring together trade ministers from 20 or so WTO member countries, including the United States, has not yet been set but would focus on advancing negotiations now under way aimed at completing the current round of WTO trade talks by next year.

Bo Xilai, China's commerce minister, reportedly said after meeting European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in Beijing last month that China would be holding the meeting so that the WTO talks "could make substantial achievements."

Mandelson said in a speech in Beijing on Feb. 24 that he would be having detailed discussions with the Chinese authorities to prepare for the meeting (37 WTO, 02/25/05) .

But neither Bo nor Mandelson cited specific dates or a confirmed venue for the session.

Expected to attend the meeting being planned for July in Qingdao, which is about 350 miles southeast of Beijing, would be trade ministers from advanced developed WTO members such as the United States and the European Union as well as representatives of developing countries, including the so-called Group of 20 on agriculture, which is led by Brazil and also includes China, India, Egypt, and South Africa.

Prelude to Geneva Meetings

Sources said that the meeting, if confirmed, would likely be critical to the overall success of the WTO talks--coming just two weeks ahead of a series of key meetings that will be held in Geneva at the end of July designed to prepare for the next full ministerial meeting of the organization, which is scheduled to take place in Hong Kong Dec. 13-18.

It would also be held only weeks after the WTO mini-ministerial that is scheduled to take place in Paris May 4 on the margins of the annual meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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 agreement on agriculture in late July (148 WTO,
08/3/04) .

Two mini-ministerials have already been held this year in the run-up to the ministerial meeting in Hong Kong--one in Davos, Switzerland, at the end of January (20 WTO, 02/1/05) and one in Kenya earlier this month (43 WTO, 03/7/05) .

U.S. officials have said that additional mini-ministerials may be held on the margins of the informal meeting of trade ministers from member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in South Korea in early June, as well as the annual APEC leaders' meeting, also in South Korea, this November.