On May 31st and June 1st, the Centre for Multilateral Negotiations completed a two-day workshop with the WTO and the Government of Argentina in preparation for the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires due to take place later this year. The workshop was supported by our project partners the Inter-American Development Bank, the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands, and the World Economic Forum.

The workshop leveraged best practices from the prior facilitation of trade, climate, and other multilateral negotiations for the Argentinian government as the host of the next Ministerial Conference. Key members of the Argentinian host team, senior WTO representatives, and seasoned, high-level facilitators in trade and climate negotiations discussed “lessons learnt” on negotiation management and facilitation in an open exchange to contribute to making MC11 a success.

Based on these discussions, workshop participants developed concrete approaches and options how to best address the specific challenges of negotiation management of MC11. Argentina, WTO officials, and the other expert participants widely lauded the productive outcome owed to the unique approach and composition of the workshop.

Impressions of a sample of the international experts and the Government of Argentina
Marcelo Cima, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN and to the WTO
Mr Marcelo Cima, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN and to the WTO
Miguel Braun, Secretary for Trade, Ministry of Production of Argentina
Mr Miguel Braun, Secretary for Trade, Ministry of Production of Argentina
Nora Capello, Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina
Ms Nora Capello, Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina
Victor do Prado, Director, WTO Council and TNC Division
Mr Victor do Prado, Director, WTO Council and TNC Division
Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Directors-General of WTO
Mr Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of WTO
Nelson Ndirangu, Director of Economic Affairs and International Trade at WTO
Mr Nelson Ndirangu, Director of Economic Affairs and International Trade at WTO
Marten van den Berg, Director General for Foreign Economic Relations, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr Marten van den Berg, Director General for Foreign Economic Relations, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Richard Samans, Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda, WEF
Mr Richard Samans, Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda, WEF
Stuart Harbinson, former General Council Chair and WTO Secretariat Chief of Staff
Mr Stuart Harbinson, former General Council Chair and WTO Secretariat Chief of Staff
Antoni Estevadeordal, Manager, Integration & Trade Sector, Inter-American Development Bank
Mr Antoni Estevadeordal, Manager, Integration & Trade Sector, Inter-American Development Bank
Xavier Carim, Ambassador of South Africa to the WTO
Mr Xavier Carim, Ambassador of South Africa to the WTO
Wayne McCook, Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the WTO
Mr Wayne McCook, Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the WTO
Thoughts and responses to the workshop

The workshop was very productive: complex issues require deep thinking, serious preparation, discussion with experts and stakeholders and especially time and concentration. The Centre for Multilateral Negotiations provided the ideal framework to help our team prepare for the challenge ahead. I highly recommend their work, and look forward to working with them again in the future.
– Miguel Braun, Secretary for Trade, Ministry of Production of Argentina

Deep gratitude to all of you. Very important insights and considerations that our country will be facing in December. We came here with fears and dreams; we are going home with hope.
– Gustavo Osvaldo Beliz, Director of INTAL-Inter-American Development Bank

I wish I had had this kind of workshop to prepare me for 6 months EU Presidency! Extremely relevant. Valuable because everyone was open. Wonderful two days.
– Marten van den Berg, Director General for Foreign Economic Relations, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The workshop proved to be invaluable. I have participated actively in several Ministeriales over the last 40 years. Thus I thought this workshop would be boring and repetitive. I am now humbled. The format allowed a rich interaction that was highly valuable to all, particularly the host country officials. In a few words, contrary to my expectations, the workshop provided an important value-added and should be repeated well ahead of each WTO Ministerial. Congratulations to the organizers.
– Alejandro Jara, former WTO Deputy Director-General

I was reluctant initially but it has been fantastic.
– Marcelo Cima, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN and to the WTO

WTO Ministerial Conferences are driven by the pace of immediate events. Understandably, there is never enough time for reflection. The great value of the workshop was that it allowed key players to stand back for a short time, draw lessons from the past, relate these to the current context, and identify best practices in order to enhance the prospects for future success. I came out of the workshop with a much better appreciation and understanding of why some techniques tend to work and others don’t.
– Stuart Harbinson, former General Council Chair and WTO Secretariat Chief of Staff

The negotiation management workshop provides an excellent preparatory toolbox for the WTO Ministerial conference. In combining the expertise of the CMN and that of officials and practitioners with actual experience in shaping successful outcomes in previous conferences, the workshop provided a unique opportunity to assess what lies ahead and prepare to facilitate an outcome. I learned a lot from the workshop and much remains quite relevant as we prepare for MC 11 in Buenos Aires.
– Wayne McCook, Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the WTO

The management of multilateral negotiations becomes ever more important as global cooperation in trade is repeatedly being questioned by some of the world’s leading powers. With mounting challenges for the WTO and its presidencies, this excellent workshop was an important step to ensure highly sophisticated summit facilitation for advancing the global trade system.
– Rufus Yerxa, former WTO Deputy Director-General

This workshop was “first-class”: it has proven extremely useful for our government’s preparations for the WTO summit in Buenos Aires this year. The sessions were very productive and of supreme quality. I highly recommend this service for all institutions facing the challenges of any multilateral negotiation presidency.
– Shunko Rojas, Undersecretary for External Trade, Ministry of Production of Argentina

I found the workshop well organised and well facilitated. The exchanges amongst highly experienced experts with diverse but related backgrounds provided a rich learning that should provide valuable insights to the preparations for a successful WTO MC in December.
– Xavier Carim, Ambassador of South Africa to the WTO

Surely I enjoyed the whole two days, not only as a contributor to share my humble experiences, but also to benefit from those of other distinguished participants. This is absolutely a timely event to assist Argentina as MC 11 host, and the WTO members as well, in facing up to the challenges for a successful ministerial conference in December this year.
– Lu Xiankun, Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva, former Senior Official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce

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