The Eighth Ministerial Conference will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from December 15 to December 17, with participation of 150 ministers and officials of various nations.
In parallel to the Plenary Session, where Ministers will make prepared statements, three Working Sessions will take place with the following themes: "Importance of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO", "Trade and Development" and "Doha Development Agenda". The Conference will also take up the accessions of Russia, Samoa and Montenegro. WTO Director-General's Pascal Lamy welcomed the Conference and said in a statement "Growth is slowing everywhere, which could lead to recession in some parts of the world. Rising debt levels and financial volatility are damaging business and consumer confidence".
"Unemployment is stubbornly high. Food security is a worry in many parts of the developing world. Global uncertainty and vulnerability are on the rise", Lamy added. "All of this is taking place against a backdrop of tectonic geopolitical shifts that have led to the emergence of new actors on the global stage and an increasing need to share power and responsibility as we seek collective answers to the problems weighing so heavily on governments today", he explaind.According to the message of the Director-General, the WTO Ministerial Conference will be an occasion to chart the path of WTO work over the next two years. The path that can lead us to stronger multilateral cooperation, to develop improved global trade rules, resist protectionism and help our members return to growth, employment and development. Lamy expressed his concerns saying "We have not yet found a way to finish the Doha Development Round.
At the heart of the impasse lie differences between advanced economies and emerging countries over what constitutes a fair distribution of rights and obligations within the trading system, among members with different levels of development. The Ministerial Conference provides the right venue for Ministers to discuss concrete steps to exit the impasse in 2012. "We are encountering a period of great uncertainty and significant risk for the global economy. The WTO should continue to be a force for stability, predictability and transparency and provide an important platform from which to launch economic recovery. I believe we must all lift the level of our play if we are to deliver more of the global good that we provide to our member governments and the people they represent", said Lamy.