WTO negotiations on 'right path' on key issues, says head | Inquirer Business

WTO negotiations on ‘right path’ on key issues, says head

/ 11:28 AM October 25, 2023

GENEVA, Switzerland  -The World Trade Organization’s 164 member states are “on the right path” towards reaching agreements on a string of key issues at their next ministerial meeting in February, the WTO’s head said Tuesday.

The international trade body’s director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala held talks in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday with senior officials from the member countries to take stock on several issues ranging from dispute settlement reform to agriculture and food security.

“We are on the right path to delivering some solutions at 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi next February,” she told reporters at the end of the two days of talks.


“It was clear to me from the discussions that negotiators in Geneva have the political mandate now to try to achieve breakthroughs,” she added, citing issues such as e-commerce and fisheries subsidies.


The Nigerian-American economist pointed to talks on fisheries and dispute settlements that particularly “lifted my spirits”.

WTO member countries reached an agreement on fisheries subsidies at their previous ministerial meeting in Geneva in June 2022, but discussions are continuing on issues that remain unresolved, namely aid contributing to overcapacity and overfishing.

READ: WTO launches second wave of fishing subsidy talks

Okonjo-Iweala said there had been a “clear signal” in the Geneva talks to complete the fisheries negotiations by the end of the year, with a view to formally concluding the agreement in Abu Dhabi.

She also welcomed the “collaborative” approach of the United States in the discussions on the reform of the WTO dispute settlement system.

The body that examines appeals to the WTO in the event of trade disputes has been inoperative since December 2019 because Washington has systematically blocked the renewal of its judges.


READ: At WTO, growing disregard for trade rules shows world is fragmenting

At the 2022 ministerial meeting, however, the WTO nations committed themselves to setting up a fully operational dispute settlement system “by 2024”, with the aim of reaching an agreement on this at the meeting in Abu Dhabi which will take place from February 26-29.

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TAGS: negotiations, subsidies, tariffs, WTO

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