South Africa is participating in the 11th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The ministerial conference is the highest decision-making body in the WTO and will be attended by delegates of the 164 countries which are members of the WTO.
Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, together with the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe are representing South Africa in the summit which ends on Wednesday.
Minister Davies on Saturday said the MC11 is held at a time of increasing backlash against multilateralism and trade liberalisation due to the lack of inclusive growth.
“There is a need to define a new form of ‘inclusive multilateralism”. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its 2017 Trade and Development Report calls for a ‘global new deal’ to enhance growth and development,” said Minister Davies.
South Africa is of the view that there is a need to define a new form of “inclusive multilateralism” that promotes inclusive growth and sustainable development and MC11 can provide an opportunity to start a discussion on this issue.
Government’s priorities are aligned to those of the African Group and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group.
The key priority is therefore to conclude the outstanding work of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) including, in agriculture, to address the trade-distorting domestic support subsidies being provided by mainly developed countries.
Minister Davies noted that there were many proposals on the different issues discussed at the WTO but there seems to be very little convergence.
“On the SA side, we are assessing each of the proposed issues, to determine whether they can indeed be delivered, whether they meet SA’s most urgent developmental needs, and whether they involve demands that unacceptably limit our policy space.”
The South African government hosted the National Consultative Forum in October to prepare for the MC11. The meeting which was attended by representatives of government, labour and business- provided an opportunity for stakeholders to sign a pledge not to concede to become a party to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.