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Outcome of WTO 6th Ministerial Conference Focus of UNESCWA Meeting


What are the direct implications on Arab countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) 6th Ministerial Conference? What are the objectives these countries are seeking to achieve by joining WTO, in view of the proliferating bilateral and regional trade arrangements? And what would be the negotiations priorities once Arab countries choose to maximize their stakes from the Doha round negotiations and WTO membership?

These issues will be the focus of an UNESCWA Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on 4 and 5 April 2006 to “Follow-up on the Results of the World Trade Organization 6th Ministerial Conference-Hong Kong”. It will be held at the UN House, Beirut, under the patronage of Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade Sami Haddad.

Opening at 10am Tuesday, the EGM will discuss the state-of-play of the negotiations on Doha’s Agenda in light of the Ministerial Declaration of the WTO Hong Kong Conference; issues of concern for the Arab countries such as market access for agricultural and non-agricultural goods and negotiations on trade in services; development issues and special and differential treatment and implementation issues; trade facilitation; and trade policy priorities in the Arab region: future perspective.

Official representatives from Ministries of Trade, Economy and Finance in Arab Countries and high-level regional and international experts involved in WTO issues will be participating in the conference. They are joined by representatives from regional international organizations including the: World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNTAD); World Customs Organization (WCO); League of Arab States (LAS); General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Arab Countries (GUCCIAC); Union of Arab Banks (UAB); Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU); Arab Universities; Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD); Arab Industrial Development and Mineral Organization (AIDMO); Arab Planning Institute (API); Islamic Bank for Development (IBD); Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); UN Regional Commissions; and other representatives of Arab Missions to WTO in Geneva.

The WTO 6th Ministerial Conference was held in Hong Kong/China from 13 to 18 December 2005. The conference came as a stocktaking meeting of the progress made in the current negotiations round in the WTO also known as “Doha Work Program”. The conference re-affirmed the negotiating mandates and goals stipulated in the Doha Ministerial Declaration. It also re-established new deadlines especially to reach an agreement concerning the negotiations modalities for agricultural and non-agricultural products with the hope to bring the negotiations round to a successful conclusion by the end of 2006.