DDG Ellard outlined progress in key areas of negotiations in the run-up to MC12, which is scheduled to take place in mid-June. She highlighted, in particular, the environmental, economic and humanitarian importance of the negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Noting the alarming decrease in global fish stocks in recent decades, she emphasized members' willingness to conclude these negotiations not only to address the problem of overfishing, but to also show the WTO can deliver.

On vaccine inequity, she underlined that members have been working on two tracks: a proposed intellectual property waiver and trade-related aspects of the pandemic response, such as supply chains, export restraints and regulatory cooperation. She observed that IP negotiations have been taking place in a number of formats to help the WTO membership find points of convergence that could form the basis of a meaningful and acceptable outcome.

DDG Ellard emphasized that the work done by the WTO Secretariat to identify bottlenecks and trade-facilitating measures on critical products to combat COVID-19 provided useful information for decision-makers in governments and the private sector.

She noted that members have different ideas about what WTO reform should entail. While this issue is unlikely to get resolved at MC12, it is important to set a path for future work, she said. On dispute settlement reform, DDG Ellard said that more discussion is needed to reach a common understanding of the issue and how it should be addressed. However, she noted that members' recent creativity in resolving disputes, such as the use of facilitators and attempts to reach negotiated solutions, gave her hope that members would also find common ground on the fundamental issues.

DDG Ellard highlighted the completion of the negotiations on services domestic regulation by 65 members. In addition, 86 members are aiming to complete negotiations on e-commerce and more than 110 on investment facilitation by the end of 2022, she said. At the same time, she noted that there are members who are concerned about the consistency of plurilateral initiatives with consensus-based decision-making.

DDG Ellard emphasized the importance of trade in addressing climate change. The WTO has an important role to play in addressing the proliferation of carbon pricing schemes, of which there are currently more than 70, she said. DDG Ellard stressed the importance of resolving this issue through negotiations rather than litigation and said that the WTO is uniquely placed to address this issue globally due to its vast membership.

With respect to industrial subsidies, she noted that the WTO, together with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is working on a factual study surveying the global state of play in industrial and agricultural subsidies. Getting the facts is the first step in addressing this issue, she said.

Finally, DDG Ellard emphasized the importance of the rules-based multilateral trading system and business involvement with the WTO. Business associations are well-placed to make the case for the importance of the WTO to their government and people, she concluded.




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