WTO/World Trade Organization

The chair for the Doha fisheries subsidies negotiations Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland issued two documents for members on Friday to mull over some difficult issues on which ministers failed …

Global goods trade is expected to pick up gradually this year following a contraction in 2023 that was driven by the lingering effects of high energy prices and inflation, WTO economists said in a new forecast on 10 April. Notably, digitally delivered services have shown significant resilience and growth, totaling US$ 4.25 trillion in 2023, a 9% increase from the previous year and representing 13.8% of global exports. These services have now surpassed pre-pandemic levels by more than 50%.

The United States sent a communication to World Trade Organization members yesterday on climate and trade in hopes of advancing multilateral discussions on how trade policies can support efforts to …

Doha agriculture negotiations Chair Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye is hoping to jumpstart stalled negotiations in agriculture later this month, following the failure to reach any agreement on agriculture at the just concluded World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi.

Statement Initiative (JSI) on electronic commerce have released a draft chair’s text described as "toothless" for its exclusion of disciplines on cross-border data flows, server localization, and source code. This effort aims to forge an agreement before the European summer break, according to individuals close to the negotiations.  The draft text was disseminated by Australia, Japan, and Singapore.

In light of what seems to be an impending sense of defeatism and waning interest in the World Trade Organization (WTO) as it approaches its 30th anniversary at the end of December, India has advocated for the prioritization of discussions on “cross-cutting, real-life trade issues” that disproportionately affect developing countries, according to individuals familiar with the discussions.

China has requested WTO dispute consultations with the United States regarding certain tax credits under the US Inflation Reduction Act to promote the production of electric vehicles and renewable energy projects. The request was circulated to WTO members on 28 March.

The World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference failed to deliver outcomes in agriculture, particularly the permanent solution for public stockholding programs for food security and domestic support work program, as well as on fisheries subsidies for addressing overcapacity and overfishing caused by large-scale subsidizers depleting global fish stocks. Trade ministers, however, approved the extension of the e-commerce moratorium and some improvements in the special and differential treatment provisions, including for countries graduating from their current least-developed country status, our correspondent writes.

Members adopted the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration, where they committed to preserve and strengthen the ability of the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core, to respond to current trade challenges. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and MC13 Chair, thanked members for their active engagement during the Conference. He noted that while not everything that delegations set out to accomplish could be delivered, the commitment shown will further strengthen the multilateral trading system.

A year after facilitating the informal discussions for reforming the World Trade Organization’s fractured dispute settlement body, the facilitator, Marco Molina from Guatemala appears to have been called by his government with immediate effect from Geneva, said people familiar with the development. In his last report to the special General Council meeting on February 14, Mr. Molina made the following observations, which are reproduced here below verbatim:

The United States lost a trade dispute with the European Union at the World Trade Organization after a compliance panel found that Washington failed to implement the relevant aspects of a ruling issued by a dispute settlement panel against anti-dumping duties imposed on raw olives from Spain.

Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard on 12 February outlined priorities for the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) at the 2024 Washington International Trade Conference, organized by the …

The chair for the Doha agriculture trade negotiations Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye Friday issued a draft text for the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference, …

The World Trade Organization’s upcoming 13th ministerial conference is an important opportunity for the global trade body to show it can respond to today’s issues and challenges, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said last week. The WTO must use the MC13 to demonstrate a “meaningful evolution” of its ability to deal with new issues and challenges as they arise, Ms. Tai told her counterparts, according to a readout from her office.

Several developing countries have vehemently opposed attempts by major industrialized countries to introduce "responsible" or "flexible" consensus into the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration of the World Trade Organization, according to our correspondent. As the WTO's 13th ministerial conference approaches, members are at odds over decision-making procedures. Canada, a member of the Group of Seven industrialized countries, advocates for "flexible" negotiating approaches, while Singapore insists on "responsible" consensus, among other stances, as reported by individuals familiar with the discussions.

The World Trade Organization is unlikely to achieve a reform outcome during the 13th ministerial conference commencing in Abu Dhabi on February 26, our correspondent writes. They recognized the importance and urgency of addressing these issues and committed to conducting discussions with the aim of establishing a fully functional dispute settlement system accessible to all Members by 2024. However, the current status of these discussions remains uncertain due to the United States' position, which favors continued deliberations without hastening towards an outcome that might overlook certain members' needs or impose constraints hindering constructive dialogue.

Many countries lent support to the draft agriculture negotiating text issued last week by the chair of the Doha agriculture negotiations. They expressed that it could serve as a basis for advancing negotiations leading up to the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference, which commences on February 26. During a meeting of the Doha agriculture negotiating body, several members, including Brazil and the United States, indicated their approval of the draft text put forth by Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye, considering it a viable foundation for negotiations.

The upcoming 13th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization in Geneva seems to be becoming an event focused on deferring critical issues previously agreed upon during the MC12 ministerial meeting held in July 2022, according to informed sources. Recent developments within the WTO's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Council indicate that there will be no decision to extend the TRIPS-partial waiver to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. Similarly, the sixth draft of the ministerial decision on dispute settlement reform, particularly regarding the appeal review mechanism, suggests that the two-tier dispute settlement system, considered the "jewel in the crown," will not be reinstated at MC13, despite the mandate provided in MC12.

The Joint Statement Initiative on electronic commerce co-convenors – Australia, Japan, and Singapore – have escalated negotiations, aiming for a decision at the World Trade Organization's 13th ministerial conference. They race to announce a decision concurrent with the proposed plurilateral Investment Facilitation for Development at MC13, issuing a draft chair's text. The co-convenors released two restricted proposals (INF/ECOM/84 and INF/ECOM/85), reviewed by WTD, for intensive negotiations at the upcoming meeting from January 30 to February 2.

Since there is no consensus on formalization of the informal process at this point in time, the Chair suggested that members allow the informal process on reform to continue to do as much work as possible to achieve a successful outcome. The prospects for restoring the World Trade Organization's (WTO) two-tier dispute settlement system, particularly its final adjudicating limb, the Appellate Body, appear dim at the upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference. Nonetheless, there seems to be an effort to declare a partial victory at MC13, with expectations of continued negotiations post-conference.

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