The UAE is gearing up to host the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Abu Dhabi between 26th and 29th February, 2024.

This pivotal event brings together ministers and senior officials from around the world for discussions on the rules and regulations governing international trade.

The gathering of 175 Member States, private sector leaders, NGOs, and civil society representatives will allow the global community to work together toward advancing a more efficient, sustainable, and inclusive trading system.

Ministerial Conferences are the highest decision-making body of the WTO and serve as crucial forums for member states to address trade challenges, refine trade rules, and set the agenda for global trade policy.

The 13th Ministerial Conference is set to build on the progress achieved during MC12, held in Geneva in June 2022, which made substantive breakthroughs on fisheries subsidies, food insecurity, and e-commerce. Focus areas will include improving the ability of developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to access the global trading system, intellectual property, and WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism.

The forum will also provide an opportunity to explore greater collaboration and partnership with non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and civil society to enhance the effectiveness of trade policies and programmes via a series of side events.

These include the TradeTech Global Forum, promoting the use of technology in global supply chains, and sessions on trade facilitation in partnership with Etihad Credit Insurance, trade finance with HSBC, SMEs with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), the WLP Logistics Challenges with DP World, Future of Cargo in collaboration with Emirates, and Sustainable Trade Africa.

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade and Chair of the MC13, emphasised the significance of the upcoming conference, stating, “A robust and inclusive multilateral trading system is essential for fostering economic growth, creating jobs, and raising living standards. At MC13, ministers and senior officials worldwide can help ensure that global trade lives up to this promise by reviewing and refining its rules, confronting issues that prevent the free flow of goods and services, and supporting the needs of every nation that wishes to benefit from the multilateral trading system. We look forward to welcoming all the MC13 participants to Abu Dhabi and providing a platform conducive to positive, collaborative discussions on the future of trade.”

Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of ADDED, said, “We look forward to welcoming the international trade leaders and shapers to tackle the pressing issues and devise innovative solutions to current and future challenges. Hosting the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by Abu Dhabi underlines its credentials as a global hub.”

“Trade and the exchange of goods, services, and innovations with the rest of the world are an integral part of Abu Dhabi’s history and modern progress. Fair and free trade will also be central to our future as we cement our position as a preferred hub for talents, businesses, investments, and a key node on international supply chains. As host of MC13, we are offering our support to ensure a successful conference that enables the global trading system to uplift economies and enrich lives,” he added.

Formed in 1995, the WTO is the international body that supervises international trade rules. Its biannual Ministerial Conference is considered its topmost decision-making forum, bringing ministers and senior officials from all member states to review and update regulations shaping the global trading system.