Director general WTOSpeaking at the opening of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday (12), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala expressed cautious optimism that the assembled 164 trade ministers would reach global agreements this week, but warned that the path would be turbulent and with obstacles.
The Director-General said that the world had changed since the last Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, which was held nearly five years ago.
“I wish I could say so [mudou] for the better. The matter is certainly becoming more complex, she said at a press conference ahead of the June 12-15 conference, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the broader food and energy crises as part of a “multiple crisis”. “.
In her speech, the WTO chief asked ministers to “show the world that the organization can live up to its responsibilities” and reach agreements on topics such as reducing fishing subsidies, expanding access to vaccines against Covid-19, food security and setting a reform path. the World Trade Organization itself.
“What’s left requires political will – and I know you have it – to get us to the finish line,” she said, warning that it would be a challenge.
Before the conference began on Sunday, she said at a press conference, “Even getting to a conference or two, it’s not going to be an easy path.”
“There will be chaos and we will have some mines along the way. We will have to avoid them,” said Ngozi, the organization’s first female and first African director-general.
The WTO operates by consensus, which requires 164 countries to agree to enter into an agreement.
The organization has lost its relevance in recent years because it has not been able to close big deals – the last of which was in 2013.
One of the conference’s expectations is to find a solution to the serious risks of the food crisis threatening the world, especially the poorest countries, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which caused food prices to rise.
A draft ministerial declaration has already been submitted, which promises to “take concrete actions” to facilitate trade and improve the functioning of markets, “including for grains and fertilizers”. The text states that it will give priority to countries with low purchasing power.
World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Kazakh Economy Minister Timur Seliminov, Switzerland’s Ambassador and Country Representative to the WTO, at the opening ceremony of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. Photo: Reuters
On the food crisis, Russian Deputy Minister Vladimir Ilyshev asked his colleagues to analyze the situation in an “objective and balanced” way, promising that Russia would have an “active and responsible” participation in supplying the world market with food.
Prior to Elishev’s speech, more than 50 countries expressed their solidarity with Ukraine in a joint declaration addressed to Ukrainian Trade Representative Taras Kachka.
In the wake of the food crisis, fishing is also a major issue, especially given the attempt to eliminate subsidies that could encourage illegal fishing-related practices.
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