Abu Dhabi was announced, for the first time, as the host of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The foremost deliberation body of the WTO, which meets once every two years, will be coming to Abu Dhabi in Q1 2024, placing the UAE at the heart of the conversations that will shape the immediate future of global trade.

MC13 is already being regarded as one of the most pivotal in the WTO’s recent history. After the successes of MC12, which reached landmark multinational agreements on pandemic preparedness, intellectual property rights, the removal of food export prohibitions and fisheries subsidies, in what has become known as The Geneva Package, MC13 is now the opportunity to finally introduce impactful reform to the WTO itself – and usher in a new wave of measures that will safeguard the future of the body as a credible custodian of the multilateral trading system.

H.E. Abdulla Bin Touq, Minister of Economy, said: “The 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization reflects the UAE’s status as a key facilitator of trade and investment between all four corners of the world. It is also the culmination of the qualitative leaps that the UAE has achieved in terms of economic growth and diversification over recent decades, which has been central to our bold vision to unleash a new era of sustainable economic development.”

H.E. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, added: “Hosting the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference in the UAE reflects the country’s growing influence on global trade, as well as our ongoing commitment to galvanising international efforts to overcome economic challenges. Under the directives of our leadership, we are strengthening relations with the international community to accelerate trade growth, investment flows, and sustainable development around the world.”

H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, urged the global trading community at the WTO’s General Council meeting in October to strengthen the body’s role as a forum for trade negotiation and rule-making, reinvigorate its dispute resolution and arbitration functions, embrace digitalisation and strategic digital trade policies, and address market-distorting subsidies while protecting the interests of emerging nations. These mentioned issues will continue to influence the agenda during MC13.”

H.E. Mohamed bin Hadi Al Hussaini, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, added: “Hosting the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference underlines the UAE’s position as a global business centre, a vital gateway to trade and investment, and a major contributor to the future of the multilateral trading system. “

H.E. Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, added: “Having been chosen to host the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization is testament to the United Arab Emirates’ and Abu Dhabi’s reputation as credible, neutral and successful global facilitator of trade and commerce. “

H.E. Jassim Mohammed Buataba Al Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Finance Department, added: “Hosting the MC13 is a noteworthy achievement, one that underscores the UAE’s reputation as a leading and neutral global centre guiding responsible financial services and monetary policies needed for complementing the global trade and commerce mix.”

H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “Abu Dhabi is proud to be hosting the WTO’s meetings here for the first time in the UAE. Being a member of the WTO, the decision to host their ministerial meetings in the capital, further cements Abu Dhabi as a destination of choice with the capacity & capabilities in convening globally significant conventions.”

His Excellency Ahmed Abdullah bin Lahej Al Falasi, Director General of Customs, Federal Authority for Identity, Nationality, Customs and Ports Security, added: “Abu Dhabi’s hosting of the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization is an opportunity for the UAE to mobilise international efforts, modernise, and develop the global trading system.”

Rashed Al Blooshi, Undersecretary Abu Dhabi Department for Economic Development, added: “Hosting the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi underlines the city’s status as not only a global meeting place but as of one of the most important industrial, investment and trade hubs in the world.”

Rashed Lahej Al Mansoori, Director General, General Administration of Customs, added: “The WTO’s Ministerial Conference is one of the most important platforms to help determine the future of the multilateral trading system and its presence in Abu Dhabi will enable the UAE to play an important role in shaping its agenda, from technological integration to enhanced dispute resolution.”

Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Ports, added: “This is a hugely significant announcement for Abu Dhabi – and for the UAE as a whole. In recent years, Abu Dhabi has emerged as a global leader in logistics and industry, with our ports pioneering new solutions that facilitate the faster, more efficient movement of goods.”

Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, Managing Director and Group CEO of ADNEC Group, said: “The UAE is a leading strategic hub for international trade, and welcomes business delegations continuously across a wide range of investment sectors. Abu Dhabi is at the forefront of driving greater sustainable development for the business tourism industry, which highlights its dynamic position regionally.

“ADNEC is proud to support the UAE bid for hosting the WTO’s meetings. In collaboration with national partners across the public and private sectors, we aim to deliver an exceptional edition which reflects on the UAE’s reputable position, both regionally and globally.”

Al Dhaheri added: “The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre is well recognised as the preferred destination for organising and hosting mega international events through world-class infrastructure, capabilities and facilities, which are the largest in the MENA region with an area of more than 153,000 square metres. We look forward to the opportunity of welcoming WTO delegations and visits to the UAE.”

The United Arab Emirate’s drive to host the next edition of the MC stems from its belief in a world where trade flows freely. The country and its historical land and sea routes, have been used by ancient global traders linking the Arabian Peninsula to the Sub-Continent, the rest of Asia  and beyond. The UAE already champions numerous trade-facilitating agreements and knowledge exchange programs with many countries, such as its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements, Virtual Trade Corridors and Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Trade and Logistics Platform facilitating commerce and trade, all of which promote a more open and equitable multilateral trading system.

The 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization will be held in Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2024. It will follow the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28), enabling the UAE to play an instrumental role in driving dialogue and action across the world’s most pressing global issues.