STUDENTS AND YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

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From 6 to 13 April 2022, students from 34 countries with a range of educational backgrounds participated in the 25th edition of “Model WTO” in St. Gallen and Geneva, Switzerland.

“Model WTO” is an intensive six-day negotiating exercise in which the students, each acting as a representative of a WTO member, work together in negotiating committees to produce a final ministerial declaration.

The topic for Model WTO 2022 was the WTO and sustainable food systems. Participants debated the role of trade in achieving global food security and nutrition, while addressing related climate and environmental sustainability challenges. Through different committees, they looked at reliable food supplies, the environmental footprint of food trade, fair food trade, food standards and trade facilitation measures, and repurposing farm subsidies. During the negotiations, participants benefited from the support of the WTO Secretariat and the WTO delegations they represented.

At the closing ceremony on 12 April in Geneva, the participants were praised for their enthusiasm and excellent results. Ambassador Clare Kelly, New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the WTO, lauded the quality of the declaration the participants had negotiated. She highlighted the need for new ideas to deal with the current global food crisis and shared New Zealand's experience in developing a sustainable agriculture system, pointing to the role of the WTO in supporting this ambition at the global level. Ambassador Kelly concluded: “Model WTO is an important and great experience for the next generation. I hope to see many of you back.”

WTO Head of External Relations Bernard Kuiten stressed the importance of experiencing how difficult it is to reach agreement on a set of very challenging issues. He also expressed appreciation for the time students had taken from their courses in order to participate in the event. Having witnessed the negotiations, he said: “What I saw was drive, dedication and commitment to finding clever multilateral solutions. I echo Ambassador Kelly in hoping to see you as part of the future of WTO, whether as delegates or otherwise.”

The WTO is a strong supporter of Model WTO because the event provides tomorrow's generation of decision-makers with the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the multilateral trading system and to experience at first hand the dynamics of trade negotiations.

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