Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed on Wednesday that the Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12), which was postponed due to the pandemic, will be held in Geneva in the week of June 13, the Geneva-based body announced. ,
“The decision was taken at a meeting of the General Council of the Organization following the easing of restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic in Switzerland, the conference’s host country,” the World Trade Organization indicated in a statement.
At the same meeting, the countries also agreed to start talks to join the Organization of Turkmenistan, which has 164 members.
“Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia with approximately 6.2 million inhabitants, is the last of the former Soviet republics to apply for admission to the WTO”, specifies the organization.
It is also in another Central Asian country, Kazakhstan, that the WTO Ministerial Conference was to be held in June 2020, the first since the end of 2017. But it was postponed after the first cases of Covid-19 were reported. At the end of 2019. Rescheduled for the end of 2021, it was postponed again at the last minute for health reasons, following the appearance of the Omicron version.
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Since then, discussions at the WTO – whether on overfishing and subsidies for illegal fishing, on agriculture or even on intellectual property issues related to the fight against Covid – have stalled.
The Director-General of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is expected to snag an agreement on the response to the pandemic during this meeting. But differences between countries, particularly on the question of the temporary suspension of patents for vaccines and other technologies against COVID, persist.
To take these discussions forward, some countries launched a small group in December to reach agreement on the issue of intellectual property and access to vaccines in poor countries.
At a meeting on Tuesday, several countries stressed that they appreciate the efforts of this small group to try to find a compromise. According to the Geneva-based trade representative, only Switzerland has openly criticized the process, saying the breakout format is not in line with the WTO fundamentals.
Ms Ngozi also wants to find a settlement against overfishing and public aid to illegal fishing, which has been a topic of discussion at the World Trade Organization for two decades.
The WTO is still in institutional trouble with an appeals tribunal that no longer functions as the United States neutralized it in late 2019 by blocking the appointment of new judges, calling for an overhaul of this body.
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