World Trade: Controversy and Low Consensus: WTO Ministerial Conference Extended

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Controversy and low consensus: extension of WTO ministerial conference

The ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva has been extended by one day in view of the threat of failure.

Photo: DPA

The fronts are tough: India became the mouthpiece of the developing countries and torpedoed the consensus on draft treaties. But the WTO boss is not giving up.

Geneva. The ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been extended by one day in view of the threat of failure. The WTO announced in Geneva on Wednesday that the ministers would now continue their deliberations on Thursday.

According to participants, negotiations on important trade agreements such as the Corona patent or harmful fisheries subsidies have stalled after a promising start at the beginning of the week.

164 member countries

“The time for concluding meaningful agreements is running out,” said WTO chief Noji Okonjo-Iwela on Tuesday evening. Instead of accepting failure, she brought
extension of the conference came into play, on which the interlocutors finally agreed.

Above all India and partly Sri Lanka and Egypt opposed some aspects of the negotiations and initially prevented a consensus. In another round of talks, Great Britain announced reservations, it said. Any of the 164 member states can stop the agreement because the organization has to decide everything by consensus.

“We are fighting for all developing countries, including the lowest-income countries,” Indian Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in connection with the farm talks. Rich countries have always sought huge subsidies while depriving poor countries of development opportunities. With a proposed deal to end harmful fisheries subsidies, India is pushing for a 25-year grace period before implementing provisions for poorer countries.

aid to poor countries

It was also agreed to temporarily suspend patents on the controversial corona vaccine so that more countries can start production. There was also no agreement to continue the agreement not to impose tariffs on electronic transmission. Developed countries are in favour, developing countries are against. It was also discussed how the WTO should deal with the urgently needed reforms. Even a declaration that the World Food Program (WFP), which supports starving people around the world, would be exempted from export restrictions on its purchases, was not signed and sealed on Wednesday. .

Representatives of civil society criticized all the draft treaties that were on the table. Sensible proposals were critically watered down. It hardly helps poor countries.

Experts fear that the World Trade Organization (WTO), founded in 1995 to promote development with rules on free and fair trade, is losing importance. Most recently, she reached an agreement in 2013. It was about simplifying customs procedures.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220615-99-674441/2

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