WTO Ministers Reach Deals on Fisheries, Food, COVID Vaccines

After all-night talks, members of the World Trade Organization early Friday reached a string of deals and commitments aimed to limit overfishing, broaden production of COVID-19 vaccines in the developing world, improve food security, and reform a 27-year-old trade body that has been back on its heels in recent years.

WTO Director-General Nzogi Okonjo-Iweala, after a pair of sleepless nights in rugged negotiations, concluded the WTO’s first ministerial conference in 4-1/2 years by trumpeting a new sense of cooperation at a time when the world faces crises like Russia’s war in Ukraine and a once-in-a-century pandemic that has taken millions of lives.
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“The package agreements you have reached will make a difference to the lives of people around the world,” said Okonjo-Iweala, landing what she called an “unprecedented package of deliverables” after 15 months in the job. “The outcomes demonstrate that the WTO is in fact capable of responding to emergencies of our time.”

Read more: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Is on the 2021 TIME100 List

The agreements could breathe new life into a trade body that faced repeated criticism from the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, which accused the WTO of a lack of fairness to the United States, and was caught in a growing economic and political rivalry between the U.S. and China. In recent years, Washington has incapacitated the WTO’s version of an appeals court that rules on international trade disputes.

The WTO operates by consensus, meaning that all its 164 members must agree on its deals—or at least not get in the way. The talks at times took place in backrooms or in side chats because some delegates didn’t want to be in the same space as their counterparts from Russia—as a way to protest President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has had fallout far beyond the battlefield, …read more

Source:: Time – World

      

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