WTO Reaches Worldwide Trade Agreements

In a series of compromise pledges, the World Trade Organization agreed on the first reform to global trading rules in years on Friday, as well as a deal to enhance the supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

The agreements were reached in the early hours of the sixth day of a gathering of more than 100 trade ministers that was considered a test of nations’ ability to reach multilateral trade agreements amid geopolitical concerns exacerbated by the Ukraine conflict.

“The package of agreements you have reached will make a difference in the lives of people around the world. The outcomes demonstrate that the WTO is, in fact, capable of responding to the emergencies of our time,” said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a news release

Okonjo-Iweala added that the decision they have come up showed the world that WTO members “can come together, across geopolitical fault lines, to address problems of the global commons, and to reinforce and reinvigorate this institution.” 

“They give us cause to hope that strategic competition will be able to exist alongside growing strategic cooperation,” the WTO Director-General said. 

The package has included the two most high-profile treaties under consideration – fisheries and a partial waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines – which the WTO president dubbed “unprecedented.”

The agreement to reduce fishing subsidies was only the second multilateral agreement on global trading regulations in the WTO’s 27-year existence, and it was significantly more ambitious than the first, which was aimed at reducing red tape.

The 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 12 to 17, 2022. 

Originally, the ministerial meeting was slated to end on June 15 but was prolonged by two days to allow for extra time for negotiations and agreement. 

The Conference was co-hosted by Kazakhstan and headed by Timur Suleimenov, the President’s First Deputy Chief of Staff.

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