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WTO Ministerial Conference and the Doha Development Agenda


WTO Ministerial Conference: Relevance

  • GS 3: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

In the previous articles, we have dealt with WTO and the WTO agreements. In this article, we will discuss about the WTO Ministerial Conference and the Doha Development Agenda. All these articles are very important for the UPSC CSE Exam 2022.

WTO Ministerial Conferences

Ministerial Conference (MC) Place Year Important decision
MC1 Singapore 1996 Ministerial declaration on trade in information technology products:

Expansion of world trade in information technology products, which account for

80% of world trade in these products.

Singapore issues: transparency in government procurement, trade facilitation, trade and investment, and trade and competition.

MC2 Geneva 1998 Declaration on Global Electronic Commerce: To establish a comprehensive work programme to examine all trade-related issues relating to global electronic commerce
MC3 Seattle 1999
MC4 Doha 2001 Doha Development Agenda (DDA): It covers negotiations on agriculture, Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA), services, dispute settlement, antidumping duties, subsidies, etc. Discussed separately below.
MC5 Cancun 2003
MC6 Hong Kong 2005
MC7 Geneva 2009
MC8 Geneva 2011
MC9 Bali 2013 Bali Package: The centrepiece of the package is a new agreement on trade facilitation aimed at reducing red tape, and facilitating customs procedures in an effort to cut down the cost of doing business.

Other — less far reaching — aspects of the deal focused on food security and a set of issues of particular interest to least developed countries including trade preferences or cotton subsidies.

MC10 Nairobi 2015 Nairobi Package: It contains a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries.
MC11 Buenos Aires 2017 No consensus. Developed countries like US blocked a permanent solution on government stockholding for food security purposes, developing countries like India toughened its stand on new issues including e-commerce and investment facilitation.
MC 12 Geneva 2021 To be held


WTO Ministerial Conference and the Doha Development Agenda_3.1


Doha Development Agenda

Market Access


  • Agriculture has become the linchpin in the Doha Development Agenda.
  • It aimed to give more market access to agriculture thus reducing government control over agriculture.
  • It called for elimination of export subsidies and reduction of trade distorting domestic support.
  • It also dealt with non-trade concerns like food security, rural development, among others.
  • Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM): It is a tool that will allow developing countries to raise tariffs temporarily to deal with import surges or price falls.


Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA)

  • Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) relates to trade negotiations on non-agricultural or industrial products.
  • In the NAMA negotiations, WTO Members discuss the terms or modalities for reducing or eliminating customs tariff and non-tariff barriers on trade in industrial products.



  • It aimed to improve market access in trade in services.
  • It also aimed to strengthen rules related to market access.


WTO Ministerial Conference and the Doha Development Agenda_4.1


Development issues

On TRIPS Agreement

  • Its purpose was to respond to the concerns that have been expressed that the TRIPS Agreement might make some drugs difficult to obtain for patients in poor countries.


Special and Differential (S&D) Treatment

  • The WTO Agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and which give developed countries the possibility to treat developing countries more favourably than other WTO Members.


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