Chapter 6: The Sixth Ministerial Conference: The Lean Hong Kong Harvest
Unknown Difficult things take a long time, impossible things take a little longer. INTRODUCTION The sixth biennial Ministerial Conferences of the World Trade Organization (WTO) took place in the inspiring setting of the freest economy in the world, known for its buccaneering spirit of business and enterprise, between 13 and 18 December 2005. A total of 149 sovereign member countries of the WTO participated in it in Hong Kong SAR. The principal objective of this chapter is to shed light on the progress, or lack thereof, made during the sixth Ministerial Conference. While it successfully eschewed another Cancún-like disappointing failure, the Hong Kong Ministerial did not achieve much of substance. If success is defined as not failing, the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference could be judged a success. This chapter begins with the two adverse rulings of the WTO dispute panel against the European Union and the United States in the second section, which influenced the thinking of these two hegemonic traders. There were some serious stumbling blocks in the multilateral trade negotiations (MTNs) which are discussed in the third section. A detailed fourth section delves into the sparse achievements of the Hong Kong Ministerial and their limited value for the multilateral trade regime. The fifth section deals with the lack of progress, in fact a small regression, in the negotiations in the services sector. However, one favorable feature of the Conference was skillful conference management, which has been discussed in the sixth section. A momentous consequence of this Conference...
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