WTO DG Okonjo-Iweala calls on LDCs to focus on most pressing priorities for MC12

Delivering the opening address at the “South-South Dialogue on Least-developed Countries (LDCs) and Development” on 16 May in Geneva, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stressed the need to deliver tangible outcomes for LDCs at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) to be held on June 12-15, 2022. “Trade is part of the solution to the challenges that LDCs confront,” she said.

Briefing ambassadors on the progress made in trade negotiations, DG Okonjo-Iweala said:”A successful MC12 is a necessary step in the long haul towards making the WTO fit for purpose for the 21st century. Delivering results will create a new dynamic for future discussions.” The Director-General talked about the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural reforms and fisheries subsidies.

The event was attended by close to 100 participants, including delegates from LDCs and their South-South trading partners. DG Okonjo-Iwealaencouraged participants to keep highlighting their negotiating priorities – such as LDC graduation – in a pragmatic manner.

Discussions also focused on how to strengthen the WTO to make it more responsive to the needs of LDCs.As we prepare ourselves for the busy weeks ahead, let us all remember that the WTO is about people – about using trade as a tool to raise living standards, create jobs, and promote sustainable development. So, let’s redouble our efforts, let’s deliver results and let’s reinvigorate the WTO,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said.

Opening statements were delivered by Ambassador Kadra Ahmed Hassan of Djibouti – on behalf of the coordinator of the WTO LDC group – and Ambassador Chenggang Li of China.

Underscoring the importance of achieving results for LDCs at MC12, Ambassador Hassan said: “The time is short. The stakes are high. MC12 offers an opportunity to deliver results for people that we represent and to give the WTO a brighter future. It also offers an opportunity to map out ways of strengthening the WTO and to explore emerging priorities for us LDCs as a group and for the broader WTO membership.”

Ambassador Chenggang Li highlighted China’s contribution to trade development in LDCs. He noted that the South-South Dialogue offers a platform for LDCs and their South-South partners to explore common trade and development priorities in WTO negotiations. “China remains confident that through our collective efforts, the WTO can make its rule-based trading system more balanced to meet the needs of least-developed countries through future reform. China is ready to work with other WTO members to blaze a trail of reform, with patience, belief and actions,” he noted.

The South-South Dialogue on LDCs and Development has been an integral part of China’s LDCs and Accessions Programme since 2016. It aims at strengthening the participation of LDCs in the multilateral trading system. There are currently 46 LDCs, of which 35 are WTO members and eight are in the process of accession.

More information on the event is available here.

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