In landmark decision, WTO members agree deals on fisheries, Covid vaccines, food safety

In a landmark decision, more than 160 World Trade Organization member nations on Friday agreed to deals limiting harmful fisheries subsidies, temporarily relinquishing COVID-19 vaccine patents and tackling food insecurity after two nights. hectic negotiations.

“It hasn’t been long since the WTO has seen such a large number of multilateral outcomes,” said the world trade body’s director-general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, after the adoption of the package. measures by 164 members at its headquarters in Geneva.

“The package of deals you have reached will make a difference in the lives of people around the world,” she said.

“The results demonstrate that the WTO is indeed capable of responding to the urgencies of our time,” she added.

Talks at the world trade body’s headquarters in Geneva began on Sunday and were due to end on Wednesday. However, the discussions continued until Friday, finally concluding around 05:00 (03:00 GMT).

An official announcement on all these matters should be announced soon.

According to reports, for the first time, subsidies on overfishing, high seas fishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing have been addressed through the proposed pact.

Negotiations to ban subsidies that encourage overfishing and threaten the sustainability of the world’s fish stocks have been ongoing at the WTO for more than 20 years.

Some delegations have accused India of being intransigent on all matters under discussion at the WTO, where decisions can only be taken with the agreement of each member.

But India’s trade and industry minister, Piyush Goyal, insisted: “India is not an obstacle to anything… People are realizing that it was us who really helped to create the only consensus”.

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The second major issue on the table was the proposed COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver.

Some countries that host big pharma, such as Britain and Switzerland, found some of the draft language problematic, while big pharma feared a deal that would stifle innovation.

Read also | WTO mulls initial deal as talks continue late into the night

But Britain’s ambassador to Geneva, Simon Manley, told Okonjo-Iweala on Thursday evening that after clarifications and improvements, London was “now ready to join the consensus”.

(With agency contributions)


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