The 164 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved a series of trade agreements early on Friday that include commitments on fish and promises on health and food safety, after more than five grueling days of negotiations.
The deals have been negotiated over five days at a conference of more than 100 trade ministers that has been seen as a test of countries’ ability to strike multilateral trade deals amid geopolitical tensions heightened by the Ukraine war. .
Delegates celebrated the approval of the package of six agreements just before dawn on Friday.
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told them: “The package of agreements you have reached will make a difference to people’s lives around the world. The results show that the WTO is capable of responding to the emergencies of our time.”
He had earlier called on WTO members to consider the “delicate balance” needed after nearly non-stop talks that dragged on for two more days and have at times been fraught with anger and accusations.
At one point, a series of demands from India, which sees itself as a champion of poor farmers and fishermen as well as developing countries, looked like it was going to stall the talks, but solutions were found, they said. commercial sources.
WTO rules dictate that all decisions are made by consensus, and any member can exercise a veto.
The package, which Okonjo-Iweala called “unprecedented,” included the two biggest deals under consideration: the fisheries deal and the partial waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines.
The deal to curb fisheries subsidies is only the second multilateral agreement to set new global trade rules in the WTO’s 27-year history, and it is much more ambitious than the first, aimed at cutting red tape.
The deal on fisheries subsidies has the potential to reverse the collapse of fish stocks. Although it has been cut back significantly, it has gained approval.
The deal on a partial exemption from intellectual property to allow developing countries to produce and export COVID-19 vaccines has divided the WTO for almost two years, but has finally passed. It has also drawn the fiercest criticism from campaign groups who say it barely expands on an existing exemption in WTO rules and is too narrow in not covering diagnostic and therapeutic products.
Agreement was also reached on Thursday on maintaining a moratorium on e-commerce tariffs, seen as vital to allowing the free flow of data around the world.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.