August 24, 2023
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on the Group of 20 leading economies to do their part in order to ensure the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi next February delivers outcomes on important issues that WTO members are currently addressing. She made her remarks at a August 24, 2023, meeting of G20 trade and investment ministers in Jaipur, India.
While WTO members achieved impressive results at their previous ministerial gathering (MC12) in June last year, securing an unprecedented package of trade outcomes, “we have much more to do, at MC13 and beyond,” the Director-General said at the meeting hosted by the Indian presidency of the G20.
Among the issues WTO members need to focus on for MC13 are WTO reform and in particular reform of the WTO’s dispute settlement system, a key priority for many members; securing the entry into force of the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement and concluding the second wave of fisheries subsidies negotiations; advancing talks on agriculture, where the debate in Geneva so far has shown little progress; and delivering on the development agenda in order to maintain the belief and trust of developing countries in the organisation.
DG Okonjo-Iweala said a senior officials meeting planned for late October in Geneva will hopefully tackle these issues or advance them sufficiently so that ministers can take decisions at MC13.
“One thing is sure: we should all be ready to roll up our sleeves and work in Abu Dhabi,” she said.
The Director-General also told the G20 ministers that deliberative sessions would take place at MC13 to facilitate dialogue on trade and climate change, subsidies, and inclusion. The goal will be to help WTO members better understand each other’s viewpoints on these 21st century issues.
She welcomed the negotiations concluded among large groups of members on domestic regulation of services and investment facilitation as well as the significant advances made in negotiations on electronic commerce.
The Director-General underlined the need for a new approach to global trade that brings in more places and people from the margins to the mainstream of supply networks. This process of “re-globalization,” underpinned by an open, free, and fair multilateral trading system, will allow those that have traditionally been on the outside of trade to seize emerging opportunities while at the same time deepening and diversify global supply chains.
“Our global family may be fractious but it has common goals: prosperity, resilience, inclusion, and sustainability,” she told ministers. “The pursuit of these goals will become much harder, even impossible, if we let the open, rules-based global economy erode instead of shoring it up.”
While in Jaipur DG Okonjo-Iweala met bilaterally with Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and most of the trade ministers or senior trade officials from G20 members. The G20 comprises 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, United Kingdom and United States) and the European Union.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.