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Bali ministerial conference

The WTO’s Bali Ministerial Conference concluded on 7 December 2013 when ministers formally signed off on their first multilateral trade deal in nearly two decades, after several suspenseful days and nights of meetings that had often seemed too close to call.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to say, for the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered,” Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said during the ministerial conference’s closing ceremony on Saturday morning. “It may have seemed impossible, but now it’s done. We all did deliver here and now. Thank you.”

The final agreement begins with a three-page ministerial declaration, acknowledging the accession of Yemen and adopting decisions on the ten texts regarding the three pillars of the Bali package: trade facilitation, some agricultural issues, and select development-focused provisions.

The agreement also features a series of decisions forwarded by the General Council in areas such as e-commerce and TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints, as well as other standing items at WTO ministerials.

Notably, the ministerial declaration contains specific language regarding a post-Bali agenda: work on issues in the Doha Round that have not been fully addressed at this week’s conference “will resume in the relevant Committees or Negotiating Groups of the WTO.”

The Bali package, analysts say, has the potential to provide a substantial boost to world trade, with some estimates indicating that it could increase global GDP by US$1 trillion.