WTO: Countries sign global trade deal

In a significant move since over a decade of the existence of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the organisation last Friday major deals on tackling food insecurity, curbing harmful fishing subsidies and temporarily waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents after days of round-the-clock talks.

WTO Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the Trade Ministers’ conference had struck an “unprecedented package of deliverables” after the global trade body’s 164 members passed the deals at the Organization’s headquarters in Geneva.

“Not in a long while has the WTO seen such a significant number of multilateral outcomes,” she said.

“The package of agreements you have reached will make a difference to 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.”

The ministerial conference also agreed on deals on e-commerce, responding to pandemics and reforming the organization itself.

Negotiations toward banning subsidies that encourage overfishing and threaten the sustainability of the planet’s fish stocks have been going on at the WTO for more than two decades.

Okonjo-Iweala, who took over in March 2021, hinged her leadership on breathing new life into the sclerotic organization.

The former Foreign and Finance Minister of Nigeria positioned herself as someone who can bang heads together and get business done.

The last ministerial conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017 was seen as a flop after failing to strike any heavyweight deals. “We have more work to do and now I can see that we are capable of doing it,” said Okonjo-Iweala.

These agreements are indeed very significant and it shows that the world can still forge a cohesive force in managing issues that affect mankind collectively; irrespective of huge and current challenges facing nations worldwide. The world is yet to recover from the negative impact of the Covid pandemic and is currently grappling with the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war with adverse economic consequences around the world including food security, market implosions, shipping delays etc.

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