Several participants highlighted the importance of adapting WTO rules and commitments to today's realities.
Trade ministers from 35 member countries of the WTO, including Piyush Goyal from India, met here on the sidelines of the WEF 2020 to discuss priorities and preparations for the June ministerial meeting of the global trade body.
The informal gathering of the WTO members and the WTO General Director Roberto Azevedo was held on Friday at the invitation of Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin.
The group met to discuss and define their priorities for the 12th WTO ministerial conference to be held from 8 to 11 June 2020, at Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan, a post-meeting statement said.
It said the meeting on the fringes of WEF Davos summit was attended by 35 members of the WTO, who represent a wide spectrum of trade policy interests.
The ministers discussed their priorities with regard to ongoing WTO activities and processes.
High up on the agenda were negotiations on fisheries subsidies and current efforts to reform the WTO, including further developing the existing framework of WTO rules, to improve transparency in the implementation of WTO agreements and proposals for restoring the Appellate Body of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.
In his remarks at the meeting, Swiss Federal Councillor Parmelin said the ministers expressed their resolve to preserve the credibility of the rules-based multilateral trading system.
The need to reform the WTO and to improve its functioning was also widely acknowledged, he said.
Given the significance of these negotiations for sustainable development and the WTO, Ministers instructed negotiators to step up efforts to ensure that the WTO delivers on the Sustainable Development Goal 14.6 and contributes to the long-term sustainability of global fisheries.
The Ministers underlined the urgency of taking the necessary actions to restore a fully functioning dispute settlement system in line with its fundamental principles.
Some participants indicated that they were working towards contingency measures that would allow for appeals in their trade disputes, in the form of an interim appeal arrangement, until the Appellate Body becomes operational.
Several participants addressed the diverse development levels of Members and how these should be taken into account in order to advance multilateral negotiations.
Several participants called for further progress in agricultural trade policy reform.
Numerous interventions stressed on the necessity to foster greater transparency of trade policy measures.
Several participants highlighted the importance of adapting WTO rules and commitments to today’s realities.
Many Ministers welcomed the progress achieved in the Joint Statement Initiative negotiations such as on e-commerce, investment facilitation, micro, small and medium-sized companies.
Some also called for an extension of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, while others considered that they needed to deepen their understanding of these issues.
The G20 Presidency made a presentation of the “Riyadh Initiative on the Future of the WTO”.