Effective participation of developing countries in the WTO process

A former Third World trade diplomat who represented his country at the WTO’s Seattle and Doha Ministerial Conferences considers the problem of internal transparency and participation in the light of his experience.

B G Chidyausiku

IN a submission to the General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in April 2002, a group of developing countries observed that:

‘Since the WTO was established in January 1995, four Ministerial Conferences have been held so far. The procedures adopted both in the preparatory process in Geneva and at the Ministerial Conference itself, have been different. This uncertainty in the process makes it difficult for many Members to prepare themselves for the conferences. Some basic principles and procedures for this Member-driven organisation need to be agreed upon, so that both the preparatory process and the conduct of the Ministerial Conference are transparent, inclusive and predictable’.1

For developing and least developed countries to be able to participate effectively in the preparatory process in Geneva, and in the negotiations at the WTO Ministerial Conferences, the issues raised above need to be addressed urgently. The urgency is prompted by the fact that the WTO is only some months away from yet another Ministerial Conference, to be held in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003. As the matter was discussed in the General Council in 2002 and given the fact that no agreement was reached on the way forward, this issue could be brought to the attention of the Ministers in Cancun.

Developing countries can only improve their effective participation by learning from the experiences of the past dating back to the 1st WTO Ministerial Conference in 1996 in Singapore. There is also a need for developing countries to re-evaluate their approach to trade negotiations and trade diplomacy in the current era of globalisation. Naturally, the outcome of any Ministerial Conference cannot be delinked from what happened before it. This is why we must go back in time to be able to adequately prepare ourselves for the forthcoming 5th Ministerial Conference at Cancun.

Democratic setup undermined

Developing-country members of the WTO have always demanded that the process in the WTO has to be made fair, democratic and inclusive, as is stipulated in the WTO agreements. When one looks at the WTO agreements in terms of decision-making provisions, the organisation would appear to be one of the most democratic international organisations.  Decisions are made by consensus, or one-country-one-vote should issues come to a vote, and there is no veto power. However, in reality the organisation has developed some practices that have undermined its democratic setup, and this has frequently resulted in decisions that prejudice the interests of developing and least developed countries. This explains why, in the buildup to the 4th WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha in 2001, African Ministers of Trade at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, submitted that:

‘Ministers reaffirm the critical importance of a transparent decision making process in the WTO. In this regard, a formal mechanism should be set up which guarantees the inclusiveness of all, while ensuring the efficiency and viability of running the organisation.’ (Ministerial Statement of African Ministers of Trade at Abuja, September 2001)

Earlier in July the Ministers of Trade of the least developed countries (LDCs) expressed similar views on the matter when they said in their declaration: ‘(the 4th Ministerial Conference should make) a commitment to ensuring an inclusive and transparent negotiating process, before, during and after the Doha Conference.’ (LDC/MM/ZNZ/2/Rev.1)

Preparation and participation

The level of preparation for and participation at Ministerial Conferences by developing countries has improved with each conference that has passed. The hallmark of the 3rd Ministerial Conference in Seattle in 1999 was the manner in which the developing countries held fort in the preparatory process. Implementation issues were put at the centre of the agenda of the Ministerial Declaration. Developed countries failed in their attempts to sidetrack developing and least developed countries’ interests and as a result the famous ‘Mchumo Text’2 was taken to Seattle with all the issues submitted by delegations to the Ministerial Conference.

At the Seattle Ministerial itself, the exclusive manner in which the Conference was run led Ministers from developing and least developed countries to refuse to have anything to do with the outcomes of the ‘Green Rooms’3. They had been kept drinking coffee and loitering in the conference halls while the real negotiations were taking place in Green Rooms, among a few who thought it was only their views that counted.

This bold decision by developing countries was one of the major reasons why the Seattle Ministerial Conference failed, but on the other hand, this must also be seen as a success for developing countries. A point was made that they cannot be relegated to drinking coffee at Ministerial Conferences while the chosen few decide on issues that affect the welfare of their people in their absence. Decisions made in the WTO are legally binding and have a direct impact on the sovereignty of members. Such decisions cannot be surrendered to others. In some cases decisions taken at the WTO demand that changes be made in domestic laws in our countries. In such cases decision-making cannot be surrendered to others who stand to benefit from such action to the detriment of our trade, whether it be in goods or in services.

With regard to the preparations for Doha, developing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia held extensive discussions and consultations on issues and expectations they wanted discussed and solved at the conference. A case in point was the LDC Meeting that was held in Zanzibar, Tanzania from 22-24 July 2001. LDC Ministers of Trade took a clear and well-reasoned position with regard to what they wanted out of the 4th Ministerial Conference when they declared:

‘With regard to the WTO agreements the 4th Ministerial Conference should further make significant movement on addressing implementation issues, confirmation of principles of special and differential treatment and trade policy flexibility to accommodate the interests of least developed countries and a commitment to ensuring an inclusive and transparent negotiating process, before, during and after the Doha Conference’ (emphasis added).4

Furthermore, the LDC Ministers also took the view that the scope of future multilateral trade negotiations will have to take into account the inability of the LDCs to participate effectively in negotiations on a broad agenda and implement new obligations due to the well-known limited capacity of LDCs.


The content, form and outcome of preparations for the Ministerials do shape the outcome. There is therefore a need to put in place predictable guiding principles for such preparations. In this connection, developing countries should disfavour the many side-meetings and ‘mini-ministerials’ usually held before each Ministerial and to which only a chosen few are invited. In the lead-up to Doha, meetings were held first in Frankfurt, Germany where those invited included the Quad5 and other countries perceived sympathetic to the launching of a new round of negotiations at the 4th Ministerial Conference. Another one was again organised in Coppet, Switzerland, after which Ministers from the African countries that are beneficiaries of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)6 were invited to Washington as part of the American preparations for the 4th Ministerial Conference. At the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) meeting that followed immediately after the Washington one, some shift in position was noticed on the part of a key developing-country delegation. This delegation began singing the praises of the American position on the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement as the most appropriate one for developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This shift in position was however contained, and developing countries went to Doha with common positions.

Position shifts do occur because of such meetings and these may have a serious bearing on the subsequent conduct of negotiations, including even the outcome of the Ministerials. One such meeting that changed the course of negotiations before Doha was the mini-ministerial meeting held in Singapore, as a follow-up to an earlier mini-ministerial meeting held in Mexico, at the end of August 2001. The Singapore mini-ministerial was characterised by the then WTO Director-General (DG) himself, Mr Mike Moore, as being ‘not a WTO meeting.’ A number of developing-country delegations in Geneva that were not invited to this meeting were up in arms about such mini-ministerials. However, the Chair of the General Council and the DG were present at that meeting. One wonders how more ‘WTO’ a meeting can get if both these two are present? On their return, they asked the Singapore Ambassador to give a brief to the entire membership of the WTO on what had transpired at the Singapore mini-ministerial, and - surprise, surprise! - the report that was given on what had transpired in Singapore was startlingly close to, and indeed mirrored, what eventually emerged in the Ministerial Declaration in Doha.

Developing and least developed countries at times are in great measure to blame for the mini-ministerials and other meetings held outside the main process of preparing for WTO Ministerial Conferences. When a delegation is invited to any of these meetings, it feels important and never queries why others are not invited. But when a delegation is left out, then one can be sure that it will complain bitterly about such meetings and their outcome and how these prejudice the interests of those who do not participate. The bottomline is that developing countries should not participate in any such meetings.  On the other hand, it must be made clear that whatever is discussed and agreed to at such exclusive gatherings should in no way bind members that are not included in such meetings. The entire membership of the WTO must guard against the introduction of decisions reached at such meetings into the WTO via the backdoor.

In the aftermath of what happened on the road to Doha and at the 4th Ministerial Conference itself, a group of developing countries tabled proposals in the General Council on how the preparation and holding of WTO Ministerial Conferences should be conducted. The Like-Minded Group (LMG) of countries suggested in this regard that all consultations should be transparent and open-ended. The preparatory process should be conducted under the close supervision of the General Council and chaired by the Chairman of the General Council. Any consultations or meetings held outside this process should not be part of the formal preparatory process.7

Transmission of draft texts

Developing countries have realised that the submission of texts to the Ministers for their consideration and adoption at Ministerials does have a bearing on the outcome of those Ministerials. The experience of developing-country delegations in Geneva before Doha bears testimony to this. So, even after the mini-ministerials and their mini-outcomes before Doha, most of the developing countries in Geneva continued to stick to their positions, with the result that the membership failed to agree on the draft declaration to be presented to the Ministers in Doha. The question then arose as to how to present to the Ministers at Doha a document that had not been agreed upon by the membership.

The Secretariat of the WTO advised the Chair of the General Council that he could send the contentious draft declaration to the Ministers on his own responsibility. On the basis of this ‘wise counsel’, the Chairman, Stuart Harbinson, did exactly that. The greater part of the WTO membership felt, however, that this should not be the case and cited the example, in 1999 before Seattle, when the then chair of the General Council, Ali Mchumo, brought the text to the Council for approval to transmit to Seattle. At that meeting, Harbinson himself, as the representative of Hong Kong China, had stressed that Mchumo should accommodate all views expressed: not only those that were in the draft, but also those expressed during discussions in the General Council. 

Two years later, he ignored that same principle and gave to the Ministers his un-bracketed ‘understanding’ of the discussions. This decision did not carry favour with developing-country delegations but was accepted by those delegations that had been party to the numerous mini-ministerials where the agenda of the conference was set and so was the thrust of the outcome of the 4th Ministerial Conference.

With the foregoing in mind, the LMG further proposed that the preparatory process in Geneva should aim to finalise a draft Ministerial Declaration which should reflect the priorities and interests of the entire membership, and be based on consensus. Where this is not possible, any differences should be fully and appropriately reflected in the draft Ministerial Declaration, either through listing the various options suggested by members or by the chairperson reflecting different positions on issues. If the majority of the membership are strongly opposed to the inclusion of any issue in the draft Ministerial Declaration, then such an issue should not be included. It is only the General Council, upon consensus, which should forward the draft Ministerial Declaration to the Ministerial Conference.8

It is not fair, nor is it practical, to expect Ministers to negotiate technical issues in a period of three days during a Ministerial Conference. Not all Ministers are cognisant of the technical issues in international trade. Neither do they all possess legal skills to negotiate and comprehend intricate issues that at times have come in the final hours of marathon negotiation sessions that go through the night. Ministers should only come in to give political impetus to the negotiations where deadlocks occur. All the major negotiations on issues of substance must be completed by the trade negotiators, made up of the capital-based and Geneva-based officials, well in advance of the Ministerial Conference. What happened in Doha must never be allowed to happen again, where, according to the Indian Minister of Commerce and Trade Mr Murasoli Maran:

‘Even at Doha, when the process reached nowhere on 13 November, the scene shifted to the so-called “Green Room”, where only a handful of WTO members were requested to participate. The remaining members had no say. Even during the discussions on the entire night of 13-14, texts were appearing by the hour for discussion without giving sufficient time to get them examined by respective delegations. Who prepared the avalanche of Draft after Draft? Why?’9

Conduct of Ministerial Conferences

At the Ministerial Conference, procedures and the conduct of business should be done in a transparent, predictable and inclusive manner. When we got to Doha for example, a crucial aspect of any meeting, the agenda, was not in place. This, developing countries believe, is a matter that must be resolved in advance in the preparatory process. In the LMG proposal, it is suggested that the draft agenda be drawn up after members have been given an opportunity to express their views. Once the agenda and its parameters are agreed upon, changes may be permitted only if so decided by the entire membership.

At the Ministerial Conference, the agenda should not be adopted at the ceremonial opening session, but at the first formal plenary session immediately thereafter. The ceremonial session should remain ceremonial and should not provide an occasion to discuss serious business. Some delegations might have objections to some items on the agenda or want to add additional items onto the agenda. If such issues are discussed at the opening ceremony, there is a danger of either embarrassing the host or constraining delegations from speaking their mind freely.

The concept of ‘facilitators’ appears to be taking hold in the conduct of Ministerials. ‘Facilitators’ are persons chosen to assist in the negotiations on issues and themes that are considered problematic. Nobody knew how the themes considered problematic, and the facilitators, were chosen in Doha. At Doha, the facilitators chosen were from countries which were all ‘friends’ of the need to launch a new round of negotiations at the 4th Ministerial Conference - Mexico, Singapore, South Africa and Canada. It is obvious that facilitators with a definite interest have the ability to steer the meetings in definite directions of their choice. The consultations held by them are usually in small groups and, as can be expected, not inclusive.  People had problems getting into such consultations in Doha.  When the facilitators came to report back in plenary, they reported in general terms and gave no indication whatsoever as to who was supporting which positions.

It has also been submitted in the General Council that facilitators, including chairpersons, tasked with conducting consultations on specific subjects at the Ministerial Conference be identified by consensus in the preparatory process in Geneva, through consultations among all members. Such persons should, in our view, be persons from members that do not have a direct interest in the subject assigned for consultations. Their consultations should be open-ended, transparent and inclusive. The facilitators should convene meetings of proponents and opponents on the subject assigned as well as any other interested member who wants to attend such meetings. For this to be achieved, the schedule of each meeting should be announced at least a few hours in advance.10

Naturally, it is crucial that the ‘Green Room’ consultations be broad-based and inclusive of all shades of the membership. Such meetings ought to give all members equal opportunity to express their views. This was not the experience of the Zimbabwean Minister of Industry and International Trade Dr Herbert Murerwa on the final night of the Doha Ministerial Conference on 13 November 2001 when he had to gatecrash into a Green Room consultation at 11pm where the final outcome of the Ministerial was being decided. The Minister was not included in negotiations in the ‘Green Room’ despite the fact that Zimbabwe was the co-ordinator of the Africa Group in the WTO. He was of course not given a chair and had to sit on the floor the whole night. He could not speak since he had not been officially invited to the consultations. His contribution became limited to passing notes to his colleagues to help in their interventions. He saw for himself the whole scenario unfolding before his very eyes like a Mafia script.  Just like what Minister Maran said, ‘in the eleventh hour, probably after 37hours and 45 minutes, they produced a Draft - like a magician producing a rabbit from his hat - and said that it was the Final Draft.’

The language of any declaration should be clear and unambiguous. This would appear to be something obvious, but it is common knowledge that delegations in Geneva spend hours and hours battling to make sense of some of the language that comes out of Ministerial decisions. To make the language better understood by everybody, developing countries believe the declaration should be considered and finalised in a drafting committee appointed for that purpose by all members, and membership of which should be open to all members. This is how other meetings of international organisations like the United Nations are conducted.

In normal circumstances the Committee of the Whole (COW) should be the main forum for decision-making at Ministerial Conferences and all the meetings of this committee should be formal. However, this was not the case in Seattle or in Doha. There was no serious debate or engagement in the COW at Doha. The COW remained an illusionary forum where members were duped into believing that the system was inclusive, when it was not.  This is supposed to be the place where Ministers go to discuss and raise issues. But the reality was that nobody was taking into account what was said. It was simply a forum to enable them to vent their frustrations. That feeling of being part of the process put them offguard, when in fact, there was in place a smaller group taking the real decisions on behalf of the entire membership of the WTO without their authority. The Ministers felt part of the process when, in real terms, they were mere passengers in it. It is important that the COW be the main focus for decision-making, with all its meetings being formal.

Partisan Secretariat

Developing countries must continue to demand that the WTO Secretariat as well as the DG remain neutral, impartial and objective, and not express views on the specific issues discussed at Ministerial Conferences. In Doha, the WTO Secretariat played its usual partisan role. It carried on with its now obvious tendency of giving advice to the Chair or the DG to flout some of the regulations where they exist and, where they do not exist, to do as they please to get the results they want.

To illustrate this, in 1999 at the 3rd Ministerial Conference in Seattle, the Chairman of the Conference, US Trade Representative (USTR) Charlene Barshefsky, was very keen to have the issue of labour standards discussed and introduced into the WTO. To meet her desire without the approval of the conference, she went on to establish a committee to look into the matter. All other committees at the Conference were formed with the express approval of the Committee of the Whole. It is here that the Secretariat should have advised the Chairperson of the Conference not to arbitrarily impose a Committee on Labour Standards as this had earlier been rejected in the Committee of the Whole. Delegations reminded the Secretariat to advise the Chairperson against violating the rules of procedure but to no avail.

The 4th Ministerial Conference was extended by a day without the approval of the membership of the organisation. A number of Ministers left Doha before the conclusion of the Conference because they could not change their flight schedules from Doha as the host was not willing to accommodate the changes. In normal circumstances the Conference should have been suspended when the scheduled time for ending the Conference had passed without agreement. A new mandate to extend the time should have been sought from the COW before extending the Conference.  These are but a few in the catalogue of incidences where the Secretariat has given advice that is not in keeping with the wishes of the entire membership of the organisation.

Capacity deficiencies of developing countries

Effective participation in the WTO in general and at Ministerial Conferences in particular cannot be addressed only by active participation in preparations for the Conferences and having proper rules of procedure for the Conferences. Developing and least developed countries need to have short-, medium- and long-term programmes to address their capacity deficiencies to participate in the WTO and take advantage of their membership in this organisation to make rules of trade to level the playing field. For this to be achieved, developing and least developed countries need to pay attention to the following areas to cure the disease of deficiency, as aptly put by the Africa Group in the WTO in their proposal on how to operationalise special and differential treatment:

‘When we request for technical assistance as we did in Doha there are fundamentals that developing and least developed countries need to understand before we make our request:

‘Training shall be relevant to identified priorities and effective in directly helping the redress of bottlenecks faced by members for instance in (a) implementing obligations, (b) effectively participating in negotiations on a consistent basis, (c) achieving the clear and unequivocal inclusion of their concerns in instruments adopted by WTO bodies, (d) equitably taking up and utilising opportunities availed under the multilateral trading system and other market access arrangements, and (e) achieving acceptable or high levels of domestic economic growth.

‘Capacity building shall aim for the attainment by developing countries of projected levels of skills required in government departments, in diplomatic missions and their line ministries, and in negotiating teams. Appropriate levels shall be established by the developing country Member concerned, their attainment projected and ways to achieve them found and included in the capacity building programmes. The levels should relate to experience and training of individuals in relevant disciplines and the number of personnel.

‘Transparent, inclusive, fair, and fully accepted institutional arrangements for ensuring the proper functioning of capacity building programmes and activities shall always be in place as a condition precedent for the commencement of transition periods.

‘There shall be (a) prior assessment and costing of implementation, and of compliance and adjustment requirements of member states particularly developing and least developed countries, (b) the determination of ability to meet these requirements, and (c) the prior establishment of binding rules on the subsequent execution of modalities for meeting these requirements bearing in mind that these requirements will have financial, human resource, and socio-economic implications.

‘Capacity building shall assist (a) a proper integration in developing countries among all relevant government departments to address the cross-cutting and multi-disciplinary nature of WTO obligations and rights, (b) the establishment of a functioning link between developing country capitals and their Geneva missions, and (c) mechanisms for co-ordinating capacity building activities in Geneva and in the capitals that come under the auspices of participating donor facilities including the WTO secretariat.

‘The success of capacity building should not be reckoned or assessed on the basis of the quantity of money pledged or spent; nor on the basis of the number of technical missions, nor of seminars and workshops.

‘With respect to negotiations, capacity building shall aim to provide practical material and skills on how to negotiate and on issues for consideration, rather than further introductory courses and seminars designed for new or mid-career government officials. While the trade policy courses should continue, there should be courses designed for government officials with a good working knowledge of the WTO system, aimed at assisting the internalisation of negotiating procedures and mechanisms in relation to their issues and priorities as individual member states or regions or groups of countries. With respect to capacity building for decisions on negotiations to be taken at the 5th Ministerial Conference, capacity building should not take the form of persuading developing country officials on positions they should take particularly on the Singapore issues of investment, competition, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation.

‘With respect to new obligations proposed in negotiations, the general guideline is that existing domestic laws should not need to undergo major changes. Where any major changes are required, new obligations will be considered only if the countries already have in place the relevantly skilled people, the institutional framework and financial resources to undertake the required changes’.11

Developing and least developed countries must not abdicate their role of developing their own trade negotiators. Yes, assistance can be sourced externally but governments in developing countries must make a deliberate policy to give resources to the Ministries of international trade to enable them to do what should be done. There is no way countries can build their participation in the multilateral trading system without investing financial resources in the development of the line Ministries associated with trade.

Levelling the playing field

No matter how thoroughly developing countries prepare for all eventualities, deceit and surprises shall always be part of Ministerials. Developing countries cannot expect anything less in this world where devils abound and saints get crucified!  It is imperative, therefore, that the playing field be levelled. And the best way to do this is: put down on paper clear rules of procedure in respect of the important aspects regarding the preparation for and conduct of Ministerials, and develop negotiating and trade policy-making capacity at home, and at diplomatic missions in Geneva and Brussels. Otherwise, decisions will be made elsewhere by a chosen few, with the rest of the membership being coerced, persuaded, cajoled and even threatened into accepting those decisions.

We are only a few months away from the 5th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in Cancun. How prepared are we for that crucial meeting? Decisions and deadlines given by the Ministers in Doha have not been met in a number of key areas of interest to developing countries. Here we have the deadline on finding a solution to paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, the deadline for the operationalisation of special and differential treatment in the WTO agreements across the board. These issues should not be ‘tradeable’ or be obtained at Cancun or after Cancun as part of a package of all issues. These are separate issues that are to be settled on their own, and not as something that should be settled in response to yet another set of sensitive issues that some members would like to obtain. (Tetteh Hormeku 2003)

What strategies do we have as developing countries to make sure that, come Cancun, we have a game plan in place to make sure that issues of interest to us are taken seriously? Are we going to Cancun in the same mode of business as usual? What have the developing countries done to counter the numerous mini-ministerials that our trading partners in the WTO have been holding in preparation for Cancun?

It is a fact that in some cases Ministers of some regional groupings last met in 2001 before going to Doha. No other meeting to analyse what happened in Doha and the way forward has taken place. As is the ritual, a meeting will soon be arranged by the African Union to consult before Cancun. The approach of some developing countries to trade negotiations is done in a part-time and haphazard manner. Consultations among members of regional groupings only take place a few months before a Ministerial Conference. After a Ministerial Conference, members of some developing countries go into hibernation only to surface again as we approach another Ministerial. This results in going to Ministerial Conferences with half-baked positions, some of which are not even understood.

It is high time developing countries take their membership in the WTO seriously and make serious preparations for Ministerial Conferences as decisions taken at such meetings have a serious impact and implications on how trade and economic development are addressed in developing and least developed countries. Developing countries need to network seriously and be able to stand up for what is in the interest of our people rather than pride themselves on being associated with developed-country positions which are inimical to our developmental goals.

Developing countries must go to Cancun with a clear mind that if issues of interest to developing countries raised in the past Ministerial Conferences are not met, then there is no reason to make any concession on issues that are not on our priority list.

The game in the WTO is negotiations. We must negotiate for what we want and developing countries must not expect charity from our developed-country partners. Let us negotiate from a point of strength and not a point of weakness. In Doha there were times when some developing- and least-developed-country members felt obliged to make concessions on developed-country positions on the basis that their partners had to satisfy domestic constituents. This logic is absurd, for developing and least developed countries’ delegations also have domestic constituents  to  take  care of.  In  fact, the  interest  of  the  national constituents ought to be the primary consideration of any delegation in trade  negotiations.                                   

Ambassador Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku is currently Zimbabwe’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. He served as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and the WTO from 1999 to 2002, and attended the 3rd and 4th Ministerial Conferences of the WTO in Seattle and Doha.

The above article is developed from a paper presented at a Trade Workshop  in Kasane, Botswana organised by the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA).


1    A Communication to the General Council on the Preparatory Process in Geneva and Negotiating Procedure at Ministerial Conference from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The group is also known as the Like-Minded Group (LMG).

2    The Mchumo Text is the Draft Ministerial Declaration that was submitted to the 3rd Ministerial Conference in Seattle in 1999. The Text carried all suggestions that had been submitted and most of those submissions were in brackets as no agreement had been reached on the majority of those submissions.

3    The ‘Green Room’ process refers to a process where a few supposed key delegates are brought together to negotiate thorny issues away from the rest of the membership. This practice was prevalent in the precursor organisation to the WTO, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

4    LDC Development Agenda at the Fourth Ministerial Conference Negotiating Objectives and Proposals of the Least Developed Countries   p1[LDC/MM/ZNZ/2/Rev.1]

5    Quad countries  comprise the United States, the European Union, Japan, and Canada.

6    This act was passed by the Clinton Administration supposedly for providing preferential treatment to selected African countries’ goods in the United States.

7    WT/GC/W/471 p2

8    LMG  paper to the General Council WT/GC/W/471

9    Quoted in Third World Network: The Multilateral Trading System: A Development Perspective, UNDP, 2001.

10  WT/GC/W/471 p3.

11  Africa Group in the WTO Proposal: Framework Agreement on Special and Differential Treatment  2002


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Martin Khor: The WTO, the Post-Doha Agenda and the Future of the Trade System: A Development Pespective. TWN 2002

Third World Network:  The Multilateral Trading System: A Development Pespective. UNDP, 2001

The Least Developed Countries Trade Ministers Meeting, Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania: Zanzibar Declaration. LDC /MM/ZNZ/1/Rev.1

The Least Developed Countries Trade Ministers Meeting, Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania: Zanzibar Declaration. ‘LDC Development Agenda at the WTO Ministerial Conference, Negotiating Objectives and Proposals of the Least Developed Countries’. LDC/MM/ZNZ/2/Rev.1 (2001)

African Ministers of Trade Meeting, Abuja, Nigeria: Ministerial Statement (2001)

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