• Day Two of the Ministerial (December 16th, 2011) saw the continuation of plenary sessions during which other members made their own statements regarding the issues facing the WTO.
• The plenary also approved accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO.
The more important work was going on behind the scenes, however:
• Working Sessions under the broad theme: “Importance of the Multilateral Trading System and the WTO”.
• Even more importantly, operating behind the scenes are the meetings of the smaller grouping of countries which will get the first opportunity to vet and to veto the decisions that will be taken at the Ministerial. By invitation only, and initially composed of the key developed economies, this grouping has now been broadened to include the key emerging economies. Out of this group will come the draft of the Chairman’s Summary that will be presented for consideration and adoption by the entire Ministerial body at the end of the conference, reflecting the outcomes and way forward, or not, on the politically-charged issues that faced the WTO at the start of the Conference (see discussion of Day One Highlights).
In addition to addressing those issues, the Ministerial is expected to adopt the following decisions:
• Maintain the current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions;
• Continue the Work Programme on Small Economies, which includes the work of developing recommendations to address the special trading circumstances of small, vulnerable economies (countries whose small size make them dependent on one or two export products and therefore particularly vulnerable to external shocks);
• Extend the transition period for implementation by LDCs of the TRIPS agreement;
• Direct the sub-committee on LDCs to develop recommendations to further strengthen, streamline and operationalize the 2002 guidelines to facilitate WTO accession by LDC members, including benchmarks which take into account the level of commitments undertaken by existing LDC Members in the areas of goods and services;
• Adopt a waiver that will allow developed country members to give preferential treatment on services to LDCs for a 15-year period;
• Extend an agreement that Members will not initiate TRIPS non-violation complaints, i.e. the complaint must allege actual violation of the TRIPS Agreement and not that the Member has been deprived of an expected benefit, as is possible with agreements covering trade in goods and in services. A committee will continue to review this decision; and
• Adopt recommended changes to the Trade Policy Review Mechanism.