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Media Statements

South Africa to Participate at WTO 11th Ministerial Conference

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, together with the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, have arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the 11th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11) to be held, 10-13 December 2017.  The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making body in the WTO and will be attended by delegates of the 164 countries which are members of the WTO.
The Informal Africa Ministers of Trade meeting on the WTO that was held on 18 September 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, reiterated Africa’s commitment to the development mandate of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and agreed that Africa should seek outcomes that provide policy space for Africa to pursue integration and industrialisation to drive the process of structural transformation across the African continent. This meeting was jointly hosted by South Africa and the African Union Commission (AUC).

The Ministers also agreed on the need to ensure that the outcomes achieved at the multilateral level do not undermine the continent’s development integration agenda that encompasses market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development.
According to Minister Davies, MC11 is held at a time of increasing backlash against multilateralism and trade liberalisation due to the lack of inclusive growth.

 “There is a need to define a new form of ‘inclusive multilateralism”. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its 2017 Trade and Development Report calls for a ‘global new deal’ to enhance growth and development” indicates Davies.

Minister Davies highlights that South Africa is of the view that there is a need to define a new form of "inclusive multilateralism" that promotes inclusive growth and sustainable development and MC11 can provide an opportunity to start a discussion on this issue.

Minister Davies states that South Africa’s priorities are aligned to those of the African Group and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group. The key priority is therefore to conclude the outstanding work of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) including, in agriculture, to address the trade distorting domestic support subsidies being provided by mainly developed countries.

Minister Davies also noted that there were many proposals on the different issues discussed at the WTO but there seems to be very little convergence.

“On the SA side, we are assessing each of the proposed issues, to determine whether they can indeed be delivered, whether they meet SA’s most urgent developmental needs, and whether they involve demands that unacceptably limit our policy space.”   

The South African government hosted the National Consultative Forum on 13 October 2017 to prepare for the MC11. The meeting was attended by representatives of Government, Labour and Business. The National Consultative Forum also provided an opportunity for Government and Labour to sign a Pledge not to concede to become a party to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.

The Pledge is an outcome of the annual NEDLAC Trade and Industry Chamber’s Strategic Session with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, held on 22 September 2017 at NEDLAC House. In the strategic session, a resolution was taken by NEDLAC Constituencies; which include organised labour (COSATU); organised business (BUSA) and Government (the Department of Trade and Industry) not to concede and sign on to “The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement”. Subsequent to the National Consultative Forum, the Pledge has also been signed by Business.

Sidwell Medupe -Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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