Geneva Telegram – WTO gives clear life sign at Ministerial Conference - Multilateral Dialogue Geneva
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After tough negotiations - including the extension of the conference, originally scheduled to end on Wednesday, until the early hours of Friday morning – partial successes were achieved on the issues that had been declared priorities in advance (reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies and food security). Moreover, the potential backsliding on one issue (moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions) could be averted. The agreement on an (albeit limited) suspension of patent rights for vaccines (so-called "TRIPS waiver") is a success for the WTO Director-General from a political point of view; in terms of content, there is criticism of the agreement.
In the end, it was neither the question of the Ukraine conflict and the resulting dealings with Russia nor the US-China rivalry that made the discussions difficult, but the widely diverging interests of many member states and the tough stance of India in particular.
The fact that agreements could be reached on all central dossiers is an important sign of life for the World Trade Organization and a great success for Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the WTO Secretariat. Nonetheless, it is only a first step for the WTO out of its crisis.
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