Ministers to discuss future of World Trade Organization

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio will attend the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference on 26–29 February and the preceding meeting of EU trade ministers on 25 February in Abu Dhabi. Finland considers restoring the functioning of the WTO dispute settlement system to be a key theme at the Conference.

The EU trade ministers meeting preceding the WTO Ministerial Conference will prepare the EU’s common positions for the Conference. According to Ville Tavio, the most important objective for Finland and EU Member States is to make progress in reforming the WTO’s dispute settlement system and restoring its full functional capacity.

“Our companies need predictability. A well-functioning dispute settlement mechanism is necessary to ensure compliance with the common rules of international trade,” says Minister Tavio.

Finland also considers it important that electronic transmissions will continue to be exempted from customs duties, known as the Moratorium on Customs Duties, and that a WTO discussion on state aid to industry is started. The Moratorium on Customs Duties means that customs duties will not be collected on electronically transmitted goods and services in future either.

“Digital trade is today’s reality. It is important not to set up new barriers to it and not to increase the cost of trade to businesses and consumers,” Minister Tavio says.

Two new countries, the Comoros and East Timor, are to be accepted as WTO members at the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Conference, bringing the number of WTO members to 166. The Conference will also discuss the negotiated plurilateral initiatives on trade in services and on investments, in which some WTO members, Finland included, are participating.

In addition to the official conference, the Minister will attend two side events, one of which will focus on how developing countries can be helped to make full use of their WTO membership. Finland supports the Advisory Center on WTO Law, which offers legal assistance to developing countries in matters such as making use of the WTO’s dispute settlement system. The Minister will also participate in a panel discussion under the Trade and Sustainability Hub, where panellists will talk about ways to improve the conditions for circular economy in international value chains. Finland has excellence and strong commercial interests in cleantech.

Minister Tavio will also have several meetings with his trade minister colleagues from other countries. They will discuss bilateral matters, especially those related to trade, as well as WTO issues.


  • Reetta Härönoja, Diplomatic Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, tel. +358 50 521 3892 (during the Conference)

  • Ilkka Saarinen, Director, Trade Policy Unit, tel. +358 295 350 478

  • The email addresses of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are in the format