(Reuters) - The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed on Tuesday to hold a ministerial conference this year in Geneva from November 30 to December 2.
The conference, its first since one in Hong Kong in late 2005, will focus on long-term trade issues, the economy and the future of the WTO, and will not — at least officially — include negotiations on the WTO’s long-running Doha round.
But trade ministers and other leaders will have a number of opportunities in the coming months to negotiate the Doha round on the sidelines of a series of international meetings.
* Cairns Group: BALI, Indonesia, June 7-9 — Meeting of the Cairns Group of 19 rich and poor agricultural exporters, chaired by Australia and including Brazil. The group has also invited all the other major trade players — India, China, the United States, European Union and South Africa — plus WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy.
* Aid for Trade: GENEVA, July 6-7 — The WTO hosts a review of Aid for Trade — the coordination of aid and developing countries’ trade and financial policies to help them create the skills and infrastructure they need to benefit from trade, including WTO agreements.
* OECD: PARIS, June 24-26 — Annual meeting of ministers of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the grouping of rich countries. Traditionally has an afternoon of trade negotiations hosted by Australia.
* G8: L’AQUILA, Italy, July 8-10 — annual summit of the seven biggest economies plus Russia. Besides moving the summit to the site of an earthquake disaster last month, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has invited several other countries, creating in effect a kind of unscheduled Group of 20 (G20) summit. It will give leaders of rich and poor countries a chance to consider their previous pledges to reach a speedy conclusion on Doha.
G20: NEW YORK, September (dates to be confirmed) — summit of the G20 rich and emerging countries. Previous summits in Washington in November last year and London in April called for the conclusion of the Doha round and members pledged not to raise protectionist barriers.
* APEC: SINGAPORE, Nov 11-15 — annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), which groups 21 economies accounting for nearly half of world trade.
* WTO: GENEVA, Nov 30-Dec 2 — Ministerial conference of the WTO, supposed to be held every two years but which has not taken place since December 2005 for fear it would be hijacked by the Doha talks. This conference will explicitly not discuss Doha — but a “mini-ministerial” shortly beforehand cannot be excluded.
(For a related story on the Doha talks, click on [nLQ580549])
Compiled by Jonathan Lynn