Key WTO members to hold virtual meet tomorrow to discuss reform measures, response to pandemic

Director-General of World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also participating in the deliberations.

The meeting, which is happening at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, is called by Switzerland. (Reuters)
The meeting, which is happening at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, is called by Switzerland. (Reuters)

Issues like the WTO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, proposed pact on fisheries subsidies and reform measures will figure in a virtual meeting of key members of the World Trade Organization tomorrow, an official said.

The meeting, which is happening at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, is called by Switzerland.

Director-General of World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is also participating in the deliberations.

The official said that the ministers would be sharing their assessment of the current state of the negotiations in the WTO and how pragmatic and tangible outcomes could be reached.

India and South Africa are pushing for a decision on their proposal for a temporary waiver of certain provisions of a WTO agreement on intellectual property rights to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

In October 2020, India and South Africa had submitted the first proposal, suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPs (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID. In May 2021, a revised proposal was submitted by them.

On fisheries subsidies, while developed nations are pushing for prohibitions on these subsidies, India wants an equitable and balanced outcome, as the country provides support to its small and marginal fishermen, who depend on the sector for sustenance.

The meet assumes significance as the 12th ministerial conference, the highest decision making body of the WTO, was postponed for an indefinite period due to an outbreak of a particularly transmissible strain of the COVID-19 virus. This was the second time the event has been postponed due to the pandemic.

The WTO is a 164-member multilateral body, which formulates rules for global exports and imports and adjudicates disputes between two or more than two countries on trade-related issues.

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