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13th Ministerial Conference

The 13th Ministerial Conference of the WTO was scheduled to take place 26-29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi. It was extended for an extra day, through 1 March.

MC13 collapse – Developing countries successfully push back against radical new WTO expansion agenda, but outcome fails developing countries as well. (1 Mar 2024)

We have a collection of various civil society documents on MC13.

For some highlights, read on.

Civil society quotes on the current negotiations; Images: Banners that were banned from MC13. (29 Feb 2024)

WTO loses legitimacy as affected communities, CSOs shut out of normal participation at MC13 in Abu Dhabi (28 Feb 2024)

Media Advisory: CSO Quotes on WTO Negotiations. (27 Feb 2024)

NGOs call for free speech to be restored at WTO Ministerial in UAE: English, Spanish. (26 Feb 2024)

Civil Society at WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi call for pro-development outcome, end to WTO expansion agenda. (OWINFS briefing, 26 Feb 2024)

Food security, fisherfolk livelihoods, taxing big tech, and multilateralism itself hang in the balance at WTO ministerial. (OWINFS briefing, 20 Feb 2024)

What’s at stake at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference this month in Abu Dhabi? (Feb 2024)

Digital trade

Implications of digital-related issues at MC13 and beyond. (27 Feb 2024)

Before digital trade was a significant aspect of global trade, members of the WTO agreed to a “moratorium” on customs duties on electronic transmissions. It’s high time for this tax holiday for Big Tech to come to an end. Countries should have the right to decide if taxing Amazon e-books, Netflix movies, Apple music, Microsoft software, or video games is in their national interest, as these foreign operators compete tariff-free against domestic small and medium business competitors. WTO members should allow the moratorium to lapse, rather than be renewed, at MC13.

Civil society groups congratulate and support South Africa, India, Indonesia for standing firm against e-commerce duties moratorium, and refusing to give tax breaks to big tech. (29 Feb 2024)

Fact Sheet: WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions. (Feb 2024)

Some countries are pushing for anti-development, anti-public interest and pro-Big Tech rules in the WTO under the guise of “e‑commerce.”

Analysis of e-commerce JSI chairs’ text. (23 Feb 2024)

WTO electronic commerce draft chair’s text. (21 Feb 2024)

50+ Consumer and Digital Rights Groups Urge Countries to Abandon WTO E-Commerce JSI Terms on Data Flows and Source Code. (Jan 2024)

Understanding the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce. (updated Dec 2023)

more on digital economy …

Regulation of AI

Digital trade rules and AI regulation – a primer. (Feb 2024)

Food & agriculture

Countries should have the right to support the production of food that is consumed domestically. WTO members agreed to find a permanent solution to the public stockholding programs by December 2017. At MC13, WTO members should deliver a positive resolution on the public stockholding issue that allows all developing countries to implement food security programs without onerous restrictions that are not demanded of developed countries’ trade distorting subsidies.

Will MC13 fail again in addressing farmers’ discontent around the world? (27 Feb 2024)

Letter from an Indian farmers’ network. (26 Feb 2024)

Agriculture and food security in the WTO: What can MC13 deliver? (26 Feb 2024)

Agriculture and food security in MC13: Going forward or backward? (Feb 2024)

Safeguard food security, food sovereignty and ensure peasants rights at the WTO MC13. (Feb 2024)

more on food & agriculture …


WTO Fish deal; failing to properly address overfishing to meet SDG Mandate. (1 Mar 2024)

Fisherfolk and civil society call for WTO fisheries subsidies talks to target the problem, not small-scale fishers. (27 Feb 2024)

Civil society open letter to ministers on WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations. (Feb 2024)

Fishing subsidies negotiations towards MC13: Some key issues. (Feb 2024)

more on fisheries …

Access to Medicines

It is outrageous that some rich countries blocked the approval of a waiver of TRIPS patent monopolies that restricted developing countries’ access to vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and to today.

Reigniting the Spirit of the Doha Declaration: Why a TRIPS Waiver Extension is Key to the Legitimacy of the World Trade Organization. (Feb 2024)

The WTO will conclude negotiations over TRIPS and COVID 19 without extending the June 17, 2022 decision to therapeutics or diagnostics. (30 Jan 2024)

more on “intellectual property” / TRIPS …

Services - Domestic Regulation

This was not supposed to be on the agenda for MC13, but…

What adopting the JSI SDR is and is not, and what civil society says needs to happen next. (27 Feb 2024)

more on services / GATS …


Open letter from civil society to the Chair of the MC13 opposing WTO plurilateral on investment facilitation: Letter, Press release. (29 Feb 2024)

WTO-illegal Investment Facilitation rejected at MC13. (28 Feb 2024)

Statement being circulated on behalf of the delegations of South Africa and India: No consensus for the adoption of the Investment Facilitation Plurilateral JSI in the MC13. (28 Feb 2024)

WTO D-G abuses authority to try to get WTO-illegal Investment Facilitation adopted at MC13. (27 Feb 2024)

What adopting the JSI SDR is and is not, and what civil society says needs to happen next. (27 Feb 2024)

Stop the illegitimate anti-development Investment Facilitation Agreement now! (25 Feb 2024)

Comments on the investment facilitation framework: Are there real benefits to bringing it under the umbrella of the WTO? (Feb 2024)

Commentary on the investment facilitation text. (Feb 2024)

Making sense of Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement: Part I (Nov 2023), Part II (Feb 2024).

more on investment …

Stop WTO Expansion!

Pro-corporate governments at the WTO are attempting to pursue a failed agenda of WTO expansion. Developed countries are attempting to undermine the core fundamentals of the WTO's mandate as a multilateral institution and alter decision-making procedures by using “Joint Statement Initiatives (JSIs)” launched at the Buenos Aires Ministerial and henceforward.

Civil Society at WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi call for pro-development outcome, end to WTO expansion agenda. (26 Feb 2024)

WTO process issues

WTO reform, systemic issues and JSIs: what is on the table at MC13? (28 Feb 2024)

NGOs call for free speech to be restored at WTO Ministerial in UAE: English, Spanish. (26 Feb 2024)

Dispute settlement reform: The informal process and the way forward after MC13. (22 Feb 2024)

Commentary on the draft text of the informal discussions on dispute settlement reform. (Feb 2024)

more on WTO reform & process …

Trade & Environment

MC13 will feature discussions on “trade and the environment,” in which the largest polluters will use sustainability rhetoric to try to gain market access in developing countries and leave multilateral principles behind, while blocking progress on developing countries’ solutions for climate adaption focused on green technology transfer rights.

Rich countries force WTO climate agenda: Justice missing for developing countries. (22 Feb 2024)

Risks in trade as a solution for environmental problems. (Feb 2024)

An Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) is being negotiated in secret. (Sep 2023)

more on trade & environment …

ITUC / Global Unions on MC13

Global unions statement to the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13): English, Spanish, French. (Feb 2024)