WTO reaches initial deal as India’s challenge moderates

General view of the room during the speech by World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the opening ceremony of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), at the World Trade Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 12, 2022 Martial Trezzini/Pool via REUTERS

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

  • Intense conversations continued until dawn, still in progress
  • Negotiations span fisheries, vaccine, food safety
  • Agreement reached on Thursday on digital tariffs
  • India, once seen as a spoiler, expects more business

GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) – Top members of the World Trade Organization reached an initial agreement on Thursday, winning over India, which said it was confident more global deals could be reached as negotiations on fisheries, vaccines and food security enter their last hours.

Ministers from more than 100 countries gathered at the headquarters of the global trade watchdog in Geneva this week for the first time in more than four years to agree on new trade rules, a feat many thought unlikely in an era of heightened geopolitical tensions. see More information

The body’s 164 members must agree to the approval of new rules, which means that only one member can block trades.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

During the meeting from June 12 to 15, which lasted until the evening of the fifth day of Thursday, this member went to India.

However, an interim agreement to extend a moratorium on enforcing rights to electronic broadcasts until at least 2023 has been reached, despite previous opposition from New Delhi. see More information

Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who took a defiant stance on a number of topics earlier in the week, told reporters he expected more “solid decisions” to come.

New Delhi, which has a history of blocking multilateral negotiations, has previously adhered to longstanding demands to maintain subsidies for fisheries and agriculture and pushed for extra reforms, trade sources said.

India says it is struggling to protect livelihoods in developing countries.

Delegates were more optimistic on Thursday about a package deal with possible trade-offs, without specifying what the compromises would be. EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis tweeted that members were “coming closer”. WTO Deputy Director General Anabel Gonzalez said she was “hopeful”.

Negotiators were in intense talks in the WTO’s so-called ‘Green Room’ for most of the night. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao were no longer in Geneva, trade sources said.

Trading resumed around 07:00 GMT on Thursday and is expected to complete in the evening, they added.

One of the possible outcomes of the talks is a scaled-down version of an agreement designed to cut fishing subsidies that cause overfishing, a document seen by Reuters showed.

Another is a partial waiver of intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines, designed to allow developing countries to produce them and promises to alleviate the food safety crisis, although disputes over the precise wording continue, sources said.

WTO officials maintained the belief throughout the meetings that agreements can be reached, saying negotiations often look hopeless until a final bargain is reached.

Observers expressed frustration with the process.

“The ministerial (conference) revealed the growing dysfunction that inhibits collective action in the WTO,” said Jake Colvin, chairman of the National Council on Foreign Trade, adding that members should not reward “obstructionism.”

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Emma Farge; Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Alison Williams, Elaine Hardcastle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment