After several days of around-the-clock negotiations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached agreements on Friday to address food poverty, reduce damaging fishing subsidies, and temporarily waive patents on vaccines for the Covid-19 virus.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the WTO, stated that the trade ministers’ conference had reached a “unprecedented package of deliverables” after the 164 members of the global trade body passed the deals just before 5:00 am (0300 GMT) at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
She claimed that “not in a long time has the WTO seen such a considerable number of multilateral results.” “Not since the WTO has seen so many multilateral outcomes.”
“The comprehensive package of agreements that you have negotiated will have an impact on the lives of people in every region of the globe. The results suggest that the WTO is indeed capable of reacting to the crises that are occurring in our day.”
The discussions started on Sunday and were supposed to be concluded on Wednesday, but instead they continued nonstop through both nights and continued into Friday.
During the ministerial meeting, agreements were reached about e-commerce, the response to pandemics, and the organization’s own internal reform.
At this point, negotiations at the WTO have been going on for more than twenty years with the goal of prohibiting subsidies that promote overfishing and pose a danger to the long-term viability of the world’s fish populations.
When Okonjo-Iweala seized the helm in March 2021, one of her first priorities as leader was to infuse the stale organisation with fresh ideas and energy.
The former foreign and finance minister of Nigeria has positioned herself as someone who can “knock heads together” and get things done when she was in that position.
The most recent ministerial conference, which took place in Buenos Aires in December 2017, was mostly seen as a failure since it did not result in the signing of any major agreements.
Okonjo-Iweala said that there is still more work to be done, but that she is now able to see that the team is capable of completing the task.