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DG Okonjo-Iweala on MC13: “We are going to get it done” 

 Wednesday, February 14,2024

AsemconnectVietnam - Speaking at a special meeting of the WTO’s General Council on 14 February, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala acknowledged the challenges members face in securing a package of outcomes for the organization’s upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi but said she was confident members would be able to deliver.

"You know it's always very difficult and seems like it's not going to work," she told delegations. "But we never say never. We are going to get it done."
The Director-General said that while she was encouraged by members' stamina and passion in advancing the MC13 preparations, "frankly speaking, we are still not where I would have wished us to be at this point in our preparatory processes."
"But I remain positive because of the relatively positive tone in the negotiations," she said. "This gives me hope that we'll get more convergence in our negotiating positions."
MC13 will take place from 26 to 29 February in Abu Dhabi.
Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the United Arab Emirates' Minister of State for Foreign Trade and Chair of MC13, addressed members at the General Council meeting. He urged them to continue working on narrowing their differences before ministers arrive in Abu Dhabi.
"In the present international context with considerable challenges and uncertainty, it is crucial to welcome the ministers at MC with some positive news," he said. "We need to show them that, yes indeed, reaching agreements on trade issues is possible today."
"We really need to settle the low hanging fruits now and show more flexibility across the different issues and areas, especially since we have just 12 days until MC13," he added.
The General Council Chairperson, Ambassador Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme of Botswana, briefed members on the state of play regarding the drafting of an MC13 Ministerial Declaration. She noted that she intends to work with delegations in the following days to address some issues that remain outstanding, in order to circulate a “clean” draft Declaration on 16 February for members’ consideration.
"The importance that we all attach to sending a strong, meaningful, and responsive political message from ministers is evident – particularly given the difficult period we are currently living in," Ambassador Molokomme said. "Let us all keep in mind what is at stake, as we finalize the MC13 draft Declaration."
Members received reports on MC13 preparations from the chairpersons of the following negotiating bodies: agriculture, Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye; fisheries subsidies, Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland; development, Ambassador Kadra Hassan of Djibouti; and services, Ambassador Zhanar Aitzhanova of Kazakhstan.
Also reporting to members were the Facilitator of the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce and the Moratorium, Ambassador Usha Dwarka-Canabady of Mauritius; and the Chairpersons of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), Ambassador Petter Ølberg of Norway, the Council for TRIPS, Ambassador Pimchanok Pitfield of Thailand, the Committee on Trade and Development (on least developed country graduation), Ambassador José R. Sánchez-Fung of the Dominican Republic and the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Mr Tayutic Mena Retana of Costa Rica. Mr Marco Molina, deputy permanent representative of Guatemala, was also invited by the DSB chair to report in his capacity as convenor of the informal discussions on dispute settlement reform.
The Director-General also noted progress in efforts to secure the entry into force of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies reached at the 12th Ministerial Conference in 2022. Fourteen more countries have either ratified the Agreement or will do so before MC13, she said, meaning the total number of countries ratifying will now be 70.
With just 40 more members needed to close the gap, " I am confident this agreement will enter into force this year, making it one of the fastest, if not the fastest, entry into force of a WTO multilateral agreement," DG Okonjo-Iweala said.
 
Source: www.wto.org/english/news_e/news24_e/gc_14feb24_e.htm

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