Astana to host WTO Ministerial Conference in 2020

ASTANA – World Trade Organisation (WTO) members confirmed the capital as the venue for the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in 2020. The general council meeting reached a consensus July 26.

WTO General Council Meeting. Photo credit:

Kazakhstan will be the first Central Asian country to organise a ministerial conference. The event is anticipated in June, with the exact dates to be announced later, reported

The mere fact that Kazakhstan offered its candidature to host the next conference “demonstrates its strong belief in the multilateral trading system,” said WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo.

Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to WTO Zhanar Aitzhanova thanked the members for their trust on behalf of her country.

“It is a great honour for a young independent state and recently-acceded member to be hosting such an important meeting. We stand ready to contribute to addressing all outstanding issues to secure substantive outcomes at MC12,” she said.

Kazakhstan, the organisation’s 162nd member, joined in 2015. Afghanistan and Liberia, the newest members, acceded the following year.

“Coming from one of the newest WTO members, this is powerful,” said Azevêdo.

The ministerial conference is WTO’s highest decision-making body that can make rulings on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements. The meeting, held every two years as instructed by the Marrakesh Agreement that established the organisation, brings together all WTO members representing countries and custom unions. Buenos Aires hosted MC11 in December 2017.

The full list of items for general council discussion can be found at

WTO was created as a result of negotiations, and works through opening dialogue amid the chaotic interdependence of the international community. The significant work was done in 1986-1994 under negotiations known as the Uruguay Round and earlier negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). WTO is currently hosting new negotiations under the Doha Round launched in 2001.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, YouTube and Tiktok!