PRETORIA, There has been no substantial outcome emerging from the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference which took place in Buenos Aires from Dec 10 to 13, says South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

There were no substantial outcomes at MC11 (11th Ministerial Conference) and no consensus could be reached on a ministerial declaration. The Ministerial Conference ended with a Chair’s summary of proceedings at MC11. There were agreements to secure a deal on elimination of fisheries subsidies by the next ministerial in December 2019, said the department in a statement.

The other decision made at MC11 was on e-commerce, where it was agreed to continue with the work under the current e-commerce work programme and that member states will endeavour to re-invigorate the work. Another key decision was the establishment of a Working Party for the accession negotiations of South Sudan.

The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body in the WTO and was attended by delegates of the 164 countries which are members of the WTO, as well as a number of observer countries.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who attended alongside his deputy, Bulelani Magwanishe, and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, said there had been consistent calls in the run-up to the meeting for a moment of truth to decide which issues are ripe to bring to the Ministerial Conference.

That approach was not followed, leading to many issues being put on the table at the Ministerial Conference where sufficient consensus was not reached with widely different views on the issues by Member States which made it impossible to reach consensus at the meeting, the statement quoted him as saying.

During the last plenary session at the Ministerial Conference, Davies expressed disappointment that no in-depth discussion on inclusive multilaterism had taken place. We missed an opportunity for a political conversation on what is multilaterism, where does it go and how does it promote prosperity and inclusive growth for all of us, he said.