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WTO Members to meet in Bali to finalise trade deal

Trade ministers and World trade Organization (WTO) ambassadors of all WTO Member States are meeting in Bali from the 3rd to the 6th of December to finalise the negotiations for a possible new trade reform package. This will be the WTO's 9th Ministerial Conference since its establishment in 1995. It is hoped that this conference will see agreement from all WTO Members on a number of outstanding issues, which should reinforce confidence in the international trading system that has been fizzling out due to the lack of progress to date on the Doha Development Agenda agreed on in 2002.

The main elements to be negotiated at the Conference are trade facilitation, agriculture and duty-free and quota-free access for least-developed countries. WTO Members have been involved in intensive consultations on these issues over the past few months, with the recently appointed Director-General of the WTO Roberto Azev?do from Brazil pushing Members hard to reach a deal in Bali. The Director-General has indicated that the negotiators are closing in on a trade reform deal.

It is estimated by the World Bank that a deal on trade facilitation alone, which focuses on removing customs formalities and other bottlenecks in international trade, could add hundreds of billions of dollars to the international economy through speeding up trade between WTO Members. Agreement on agricultural issues such as export subsidies and food security will be critical to developing countries, which continue to face competition from developed countries' subsidized exports. For the poorest WTO Members, the least-developed countries, the hope is that this round of negotiations will see agreement on duty-free and quota-free access for their exports in world markets as well as improved rules on special and differential treatment.

Niel Joubert, one of our directors will be in Bali for the WTO Conference and will be keeping us updated on progress in this round of negotiations.

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