The first meeting of the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for this year was recently held; during the event it was announced that Ambassador Fernando de Mateo, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the agency, has been named President of the General Council of the WTO.

The General Council is the highest decision-making body at the WTO in Geneva. It consists of permanent representatives of all members and is authorized to act on behalf of the Ministerial Conference which meets once every two years.

De Mateo is a recognized expert in international trade, with a long career as an economist and a trade negotiator. He was Chairman of the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO, the more active and effective forum of solution of international disputes in the world; he also served for several years as president of the body responsible for overseeing the negotiations on services in the Doha Round negotiations. Over the past six years he was also Chairman of the OECD Trade.

His promotion to President of the General Council gives Mexico an excellent position at the WTO, in the year of the twentieth anniversary of the Organization.

This year is also crucial to the WTO, with the celebration, in mid-December, of the tenth Ministerial Conference of the Organization, where important results are expected. The success of the conference depends on the progress that its members succeed in their preparation.

In its declaration of acceptance of Presidency, Fernando de Mateo stressed that this is a decisive year for the future of the WTO. It is when the will of the members must cohere to achieve decision-making progress in concluding the Doha Round. He offered to the members make every effort to make the Council's works a full contribution to strengthening the relevance of WTO in the scheme of global economic governance.

In 1995, as a result of the Uruguay Round, the WTO was created, an institution that replaced the GATT. The Ministerial Conference, the highest decision-making body, is composed of the ministers of all member countries (currently 160) and must meet once every two years.

To date, there have been nine ministerial conferences, the last one held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2014. The tenth ministerial meeting will be held in December 2015. In December 2001, the ministers decided to launch the Doha Round, in order to further liberalize the worldwide trade.

The General Council, composed of the ambassadors of all members, is responsible for monitoring the operation and administer the WTO agreements in the interim between Ministerial Conferences. The presidency of the General Council has had Canada during 2014.