World Trade Organization
Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference – December 2017
The Eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 10 to 13 December 2017.
Ministers agreed on a Ministerial Decision on Fisheries Subsidies, giving a clear mandate for the conclusion of negotiations by the next Ministerial Conference in 2019. Three new initiatives on advancing talks on e-Commerce, Investment Facilitation and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises were launched.
The initiative to launch exploratory talks on e-commerce, led by Australia, will work towards future WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of electronic commerce. Seventy WTO members, together accounting for around 70 per cent of global trade, committed to launching talks in the first quarter of 2018.
On Investment Facilitation, 69 WTO members, including Australia, recognised the links between investment, trade and development, and announced plans to pursue structured discussions with the aim of developing a multilateral framework on investment facilitation.
On Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), 84 WTO members accounting for around 78 per cent of world exports issued a joint statement declaring their intention to create an Informal Working Group to promote the participation of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in international trade, including its role in promoting development within the WTO.
Under the Fisheries Subsidies Decision, all Members committed to adopting, by 2019, comprehensive and effective disciplines that prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Members also re-committed to existing transparency obligations and to improving the reporting of fisheries subsidies programs.
Australia remains supportive of ensuring the institutional credibility of the WTO is promoted and upheld. Australia will continue to work with other WTO Members to pursue new negotiations in the WTO, which include important outstanding Doha Round issues – such as agriculture – as well as new issues relevant to the modern global trading environment.