WTO chief urges cooperation on global trade at Abu Dhabi conference


The head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) urged member countries to cooperate and deliver concrete results at the ongoing Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi.

On the opening day of the WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala acknowledged the complex global situation, marked by geopolitical tensions, rising inflation and economic uncertainty.

However, she emphasised the continued resilience of trade and the WTO's role in promoting stability and tackling shared issues like poverty and climate change.

"Despite everything we have been through, global goods and services trade remain at or near record highs, with nearly ten percent of the global population still undernourished," Okonjo-Iweala said.

"International markets anchored in the rules-based global trading system have stayed broadly open, helping businesses, households, and economies adapt and adjust to one shock after the other."

She pointed to the success of the previous Ministerial Conference (MC12) in 2021, where members reached ten consensus agreements, and called for similar leadership and compromise at MC13.

Key issues on the agenda include finalising the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, which aims to curb the estimated $22 billion in annual harmful subsidies, addressing development concerns of least-developed countries, and making progress on WTO reform, including dispute settlement.

Okonjo-Iweala also highlighted the Secretariat's efforts to support member countries through research, capacity building, and promoting inclusivity in trade.

One of the highlights of the MC13 opening ceremony was the formal accession of Comoros and Timor-Leste to the WTO, the first two new members to join the organisation since 2015.

For both countries, membership of the WTO will unlock full participation in the international trading system, accelerate their economic growth and create further opportunities for international investment.

Underway until February 29, the conference features a number of events, programmes and sessions and aims to enhance the effectiveness of trade policies.

The Ministerial Conference represents the foremost decision making body of the WTO, the international organisation responsible for regulating and facilitating global trade.

The WTO is the world’s largest economic organisation, with 164 member states representing over 98 per cent of global trade.


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