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Trade, foreign, finance and agriculture Ministers from more than 120 World Trade Organization Member governments

and from those in the process of acceding to the WTO participated in a Ministerial Conference in Singapore from 9 to 13 December 1996. WTO first Ministerial Conference of 1996 The World Trade Organisation's Ministerial Conference of 1996 was held in Singapore on December 9 December 13, 1996. The inaugural meeting for the organisation since its formation. The event was hosted by the government of Singapore at the Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Suntec City.

The "Singapore issues" refers to four working groups set up during the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1996 in Singapore, namely investment protection, competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation. Disagreements between largely developed and developing economies prevented a resolution in these issues, despite repeated attempts to revisit them, notably during the 2003 Ministerial Conference in Cancn, Mexico, whereby no progress was made.

Since, some progress has been achieved in the area of trade facilitation. In July 2004, WTO Members formally agreed to launch negotiations. Under the mandate of the so-called July package, Members are directed to clarify and improve GATT 1. Article V (Freedom of Transit), 2. Article VIII (Fees and Formalities connected with Importation and Exportation), 3. and Article X (Publication and Administration of Trade Regulations).

The Second WTO Ministerial Conference The Second WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland between 18 and 20 May 1998. The World Trade Organisation's second Ministerial Conference in Geneva in May was meant to be a big birthday bash marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of GATT, the predecessor of the WTO. However, the free-trade system which the WTO represents came under attack from thousands of demonstrators who turned Geneva into a city under siege. The free-trade philosophy was also called into question by development, social and environmental groups; and the meet was also overshadowed by the Asian crisis and the dramatic events in Jakarta. The 50th-year celebrations and the closed-door discussions were conducted in ironically seige-like conditions because of street protests against the WTO, free trade and globalization. The protests reflected the growing unease and anger of social movements, NGOs and the public worldwide over the destabilizing and often destructive consequences of globalization and liberalization. Even in the rich countries, there is growing social and job insecurity as well as concern over increasing environmental damage caused by the intense competition between giant firms and between nations in the great globalization race, and this has led to growing public resistance in the North to the WTO. The next 12 months before the next Ministerial will see developing countries facing tremendous pressures as they will be pressed to accept further measures in the review of existing WTO agreements, and to agree to start negotiations on new issues such as investment, competition policy, government procurement and electronic commerce. The public must therefore pay even greater attention to the developments in the WTO in the coming months and keep up their own campaigns to make the WTO more accountable, to review its rules and to stop taking on more new issues.

Gathered under the umbrella of 'Peoples' Global Action', the groups represented farmers from both the South and the North who believe the removal of trade barriers will cause multinational companies to take over their markets and lands.

They also represented workers angered that the race for 'efficiency' and cost-cutting is leading to massive job losses, and consumers concerned that the profit motive has led corporations to push sales of harmful products such as tobacco and genetically- engineered foods.

The Third WTO Ministerial Conference The Third WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Seattle, Washington State, US between 30 November and 3 December 1999. The WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 was a meeting of the World Trade Organization, convened in Seattle, Washington, USA over the course of three days, beginning November 30, 1999. Intended as the launch of a new millennial round of trade negotiations that would have been called "The Seattle Round", the negotiations were overshadowed by large street protests outside the venues where the conference was taking place. Because of the disruptions in the Seattle rounds, the negotiations were not formally begun until the next meeting which was held at Doha, Qatar, a locale easier to control and police. Thus the current round is called "The Doha Round"

The fourth WTO Ministerial Conference The Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Doha, Qatar from 9 At the Doha Ministerial Conference in November 2001, trade ministers launched the Doha Development Agenda. With this Agenda, WTO members have placed development issues and the interests of poorer members at the heart of the WTOs work. The meeting, which took place just two months after the World Trade Center attack, was designed to show the world that economic growth and trade rather than terrorism was the way the world should work together. Held under tight security in the small Gulf state of Qatar, there were few protesters and even fewer lobbyists in attendance. The meeting established four key areas of work: liberalising agricultural markets in rich countries, opening up non-agricultural market access (NAMA) mainly for industrial goods in developing countries, continuing to press ahead with the services sector liberalisation under the GATS agreements, and working with the so-called Singapore issues of investment, competition policy and public procurement. Agenda Market access: supporters of a new round demanded sharp reductions in tariffs on goods. Domestic support: demands for end of direct payments to farmers to produce their goods. Export subsidies: EU has promised to end its subsidies that depress international prices. However, no exact date has been provided so far. Services: push for lifting of restrictions on services sector. Singapore issues: demands from some rich nations for more transparent laws and better legal protection for trading companies. They include issues in investment, competition, government procurement, and trade facilitation. The November 2001 Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health was adopted by the WTO Ministerial Conference of 2001 in Doha on November 14, 2001. It reaffirmed flexibility of TRIPS member states in circumventing patent rights for better access to essential medicines. Government agreed that:

The TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health. Accordingly, while reiterating our commitment to the TRIPS Agreement, we affirm that the Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members' right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all. In this connection, we reaffirm the right of WTO Members to use, to the full, the provisions in the TRIPS Agreement, which provide flexibility for this purpose. Accordingly and in the light of paragraph 4 above, while maintaining our commitments in the TRIPS Agreement, we recognize that these flexibilities include: (a) In applying the customary rules of interpretation of public international law, each provision of the TRIPS Agreement shall be read in the light of the object and purpose of the Agreement as expressed, in particular, in its objectives and principles. (b) Each Member has the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted. (c) Each Member has the right to determine what constitutes a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency, it being understood that public health crises, including those relating to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, can represent a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency. (d) The effect of the provisions in the TRIPS Agreement that are relevant to the exhaustion of intellectual property rights is to leave each Member free to establish its own regime for such exhaustion without challenge. We recognize that WTO Members with insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector could face difficulties in making effective use of compulsory licensing under the TRIPS Agreement. We instruct the Council for TRIPS to find an expeditious solution to this problem and to report to the General Council before the end of 2002." The Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference The Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Cancn, Mexico from 10 to 14 task was to take stock of progress in negotiations and other work under the Doha Development Agenda. The 2003 Cancn talksintended to forge concrete agreement on the Doha round objectives collapsed after four days during which the members could not agree on farm subsidies and access to markets. Negotiations focused upon four key areas: agriculture, industrial goods, trade in services, and updated customs codes. The collapse seemed like a victory for the developing countries. But unlike Seattle, which prevented the commencement of the second round of negotiations, Cancun resulted in continued negotiating. The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Hong Kong, China, 1318 December 2005. In general, ministerial conferences are the WTOs highest decision-making body, meeting at least once every two years and providing political direction for the organization. The Sixth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, also known as the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference and abbreviated as MC6, was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai, Hong Kong from 13th to 18th December 2005. Representatives from 148 countries were expected to attend the event, as well as over 10,000 protestors led by the Hong Kong Peoples Alliance on WTO and made up of largely South Korean farmers. Wan Chai Sports Ground and Wan Chai Cargo Handling Basin in Wan Chai North have been designated as protest zones. Victoria Park served as the starting point for the rallies. Police wielded sticks, used gas grenades and shot rubber bullets at some of the protesters. They arrested 910 people, 14 were charged, but none were convicted. Principles of the negotiations Single undertaking: Every item of the negotiation is part of a whole and indivisible package and

cannot be agreed separately. In other words, Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Participation: The negotiations are open to all WTO members and to observer governments negotiating or intending to negotiate membership. But decisions on the outcomes are only taken by members. Transparency: The negotiations have to be transparent. Special and differential treatment: The negotiations have to take fully into account the principle of special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries. Sustainable development: The Trade and Development and Trade Environment identify and debate developmental and environmental aspects of the negotiations to ensure that sustainable development is appropriately reflected. Subjects not negotiated: Elements of the work programme which do not involve negotiations are also accorded a high priority. The General Council reported on their progress to the Fifth Ministerial. The potential benefits of the success of the MC6 The WTO attempted to facilitate dialogue between developing and developed countries. It is a platform that member states from all over the world can gather to discuss issues that influence global trade and economic development such as General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, agricultural subsidies and equal access to technology. The WTO has stated that it seeks to assist developing countries enhance their rural-based economies. It has been suggested that advanced technology could be provided by other countries. Developing countries are seeking easier access to foreign markets, especially those in the EU and North America.

Moreover, they are seeking a larger quota of export and free tax for their products. In order to protect the interests of developing countries and recognise their needs, the term 'consider positively' may be extended to seven years as to eliminate any measures that are inconsistent with the overall goals of the WTO. Should these efforts have succeeded, the MC6 would have made substantial progress towards fulfilling its mandate. The barriers faced by the MC6 Many groups of people are not happy with the WTO as they believe it symbolizes the exploitation of poor countries by the developed countries. Thus, there are many protests and demonstrations organised during each WTO conference. Casualties and damages are often severe. Besides, as the number of member countries in WTO is large, it is not easy to reach an agreement which gets the consensus of the participating countries. Therefore, the last two Ministerial Conferences which included the Ministerial meetings at Seattle and Cancn failed. It was not easy to tell if the MC6 could reach any final agreement. The seventh ministerial conference The Seventh Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, took place from 30 November to 2 December 2009. The general theme for discussion was The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment. The Conference opened at 15h00 on Monday 30 November. Following addresses by the Chair, the DirectorGeneral, the Chair of the General Council and heads of other intergovernmental organizations, the Chair proposed the adoption of the Agenda. He then opened the floor for the first speakers in the Plenary Session. The Plenary provided an opportunity for Ministers to make prepared statements in accordance with the List of Speakers. In parallel to the Plenary Session, there were two Working Sessions on 1 December and 2 December, respectively. The Working Sessions were aimed at providing an interactive forum for Ministers for discussion under two broad sub-themes: Review of WTO activities, including the Doha Work Programme for the first day; and The WTO's contribution to recovery, growth and development for the second day. Scope of the confernce

In his report to the General Council on 17 November 2009, Pascal Lamy said that while the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference would not be a negotiating session, it would be a platform for minister s to review the functioning of this house, including the Doha Round, and an occasion to send a number of strong signals to the world with respect to the entire WTO waterfront of issues from monitoring and surveillance to disputes, accessions, Aid for Trade, technical assistance and international governance. Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference The Eighth Ministerial Conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 15 to 17 December 2011. In parallel to the Plenary Session, where Ministers made prepared statements, three Working Sessions took place with the following themes: Importance of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO, Trade and Development and Doha Development Agenda. The Conference approved the accessions of Russia, Samoa and Montenegro. In the final session, Ministers adopted a number of decisions and the Chair made a concluding statement.