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MC13: Legislators call for stronger role in global trade at WTO meeting

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director General, addresses the Conference

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), 25 February 2024.

Over two hundred parliamentarians from around the world have restated the importance of including a parliamentary dimension in the future of multilateral cooperation on trade, considering the essential role that trade plays in development, the global economy and people’s livelihoods worldwide. 

In their outcome document, the legislators emphasized the importance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a key institution for improving people’s lives, negotiating trade rules and settling disputes, “none of which can be achieved without parliamentary engagement”. 

They also called for effective reform of the WTO to better equip the Organization for dispute settlement and future challenges, taking into account climate change and digital transformation. 

Organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the European Parliament, and hosted by the Federal National Council (FNC) – the Parliament of the UAE – the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization took place on 25 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, on the eve of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, the MC13. 

The Parliamentary Conference was organized at the same venue as the Ministerial Conference, bringing legislators directly into contact with trade Ministers and WTO officials, and underlining the critical role that parliaments play in legislating on trade issues and monitoring the impact of international trade agreements on local communities. 

The outcome document from the Parliamentary Conference will be formally delivered to Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Trade Minister and Chairperson of the MC13, ahead of the Ministerial Conference, which takes place from 26 to 29 February 2024.


Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Trade Minister and Chairperson of the MC13, said: “The Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization is an important forum that provides vital insight into the governance of global trade – and engages policymakers and legislators on both the WTO’s processes and wider trade issues. On the eve of the 13th Ministerial Conference, it is also an opportunity to restate the case for trade as the lifeblood of the global economy – a driver of productivity, socio-economic development, and inclusive, equitable growth.”

Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of the FNC, said: “This Conference emphasizes the importance of the role played by parliaments in strengthening relations between the peoples of the world, and their contribution to promoting peace, stability and tolerance, and achieving the goals of sustainable development to ensure a better future for humanity.”

Martin Chungong, IPU Secretary General, said: “I do believe that the WTO is at crossroads, especially following the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will gain much by revitalizing our common organization, if only for the noble cause it defends: global trade that puts people back at the centre of its actions. And parliaments, as representatives of those people, are key players in that revitalization.” 

Bernd Lange, Chair of the Committee on International Trade, European Parliament and co-Chair of the Parliamentary Conference, said: ““It is important we adapt the WTO to make it ready to face the new challenges of the 21st century. Parliaments should be the engine driving the process forward and it is up to parliaments to approve the agreements. We must make them a reality for the people.”


For the past 20 years, the IPU and the European Parliament have been jointly leading the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization – a permanent mechanism of parliamentary contribution to this inter-governmental body, its de facto parliamentary dimension. 

The Conference brings together legislators who, as members of standing and select committees in their respective parliaments, specialize in international trade and finance.

The principal objective of the Conference is to mobilize parliamentary action in support of the promotion of global trade that is beneficial for all.

For more information about the IPU, contact Thomas Fitzsimons at [email protected]