Trade ministers and other representatives from the 79-member Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries added their voices to demands for ‘concrete outcomes’ at the upcoming World Trade Organisation’s Eleventh Ministerial Conference (WTO MC11). Preparations for the upcoming WTO MC11 was one of several topics discussed by ACP trade representatives at their 20th ACP Ministerial Trade Committee meeting held in Brussels on 18-19 October last week.
According to the press release from the meeting, the ACP representatives reiterated the need for a development-friendly and robust MC11 work programme which recognized differences between developed, developing and least developed countries and whose outcomes were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Reaffirming their commitment to the multilateral trading system, they also called for “inclusiveness, consensus and transparency in all WTO decision-making processes, as well as careful framing of any reform evaluation of the WTO to ensure that the interests of all countries are protected”. Guyana was chosen to be the spokesperson for the ACP Group at the Ministerial which will take place in Buenos Aires December 10-13, 2017.
In a speech delivered at the ACP meeting, the WTO’s Director General, Roberto Azevedo, acknowledged the important role ACP countries have played in shaping the WTO’s work.
Mr. Azevedo gave a brief status report on the WTO’s preparatory work for the upcoming Ministerial Conference, lauding the ACP countries for being at the “forefront” of these discussions. He noted that although there were some positive signs, the many gaps to bridge meant that there was still much work ahead with respect to the negotiations. He further reiterated that in order to achieve concrete results in Buenos Aires, “more focused engagement and negotiation will be required to quickly identify areas of convergence”.
In the meeting which was chaired by the Hon. Carl Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, ACP trade representatives also focused on several other topics of importance to ACP countries’ trade, including enhancing trade among ACP countries and trade issues with the European Union (EU).
The ACP press release also notes that ACP representatives have committed to “increased integration, unity and solidarity” among ACP countries, including taking more “joint ACP approaches to trade and development”.
The press release from the ACP can be read here.
The WTO Director-General’s full speech can be read here.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B., is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.