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WTO 13th Ministerial Conference Outcomes:Abu Dhabi



  Mar 02, 2024

WTO 13th Ministerial Conference Outcomes:Abu Dhabi



The WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference saw a mix of agreements and unresolved issues among its members, reflecting the complex and often contentious nature of global trade discussions. Here’s a summary of what was agreed upon and what remained undecided:

Agreed Upon:

Extension of E-commerce Moratorium: Members agreed to extend the moratorium on customs duties for e-commerce transactions for an additional two years, until the next ministerial conference. This decision, though initially opposed by India and South Africa, was accepted after persuasion from the United Arab Emirates, the host nation. The moratorium prevents WTO members from imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions, a policy in place since 1998 and renewed at successive ministerial conferences.

Not Agreed Upon:

Agricultural and Fisheries Subsidies: There was no progress in negotiations concerning the reduction of agricultural and fisheries subsidies. The deadlock continues as members, including India and other G-33 countries, have strong reservations about linking public stockholding for food security purposes to broader agricultural trade reforms. Similarly, discussions on fisheries subsidies did not result in a consensus, with debates centered around the need for special treatment for small-scale and artisanal fishermen in developing countries and disagreements over the extent and conditions of such subsidies.

Fisheries Subsidies Specifics: India’s proposal for allowing developing countries to extend subsidies within exclusive economic zones or up to 200 nautical miles from the shore, while suggesting wealthy nations cease subsidies for fishing beyond this zone for the next 25 years, did not reach a consensus.

China-led Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Plan: The conference saw continued debate over this plan, with India remaining opposed due to concerns over sovereignty and the integrity of the global trade system. Although South Africa withdrew its opposition, the lack of unanimous consent means that the IFD plan remains a topic of contention.

Additional Points of Discussion:

Permanent Peace Clause: India and other G-33 members successfully defended the permanent peace clause, which allows countries to exceed the de minimis subsidy levels for staple crops without facing WTO disputes. This clause is crucial for nations prioritizing food security and supporting their agricultural sectors.

Dispute settlement system :Commitments Made: The conference reaffirmed the commitment to a fully functional dispute settlement system by 2024 and the improvement in the use of special and differential treatment provisions for developing and least developed countries. However, specific resolutions or timelines for these commitments were not detailed.

The 13th Ministerial Conference highlighted the ongoing challenges in reaching global consensus on trade issues, with significant disparities in priorities and policies among member countries.


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