WTO passes global trade deals on fishing, health, others

The World Trade Organization has reached an agreement that includes commitments on fishing and pledges on health as well as food security after days of negotiation.

The 164 member countries struck the deal – regarded as the first major agreement in almost a decade – at the 12th ministerial conference of the WTO after more than five days of back and forth.

While major trade deal includes food security, balanced outcome on fishing subsidies, and response to the pandemic, a key decision related to patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines is also expected soon with the US yet to officially seal it.

What they are saying

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, WTO, had appealed to WTO members to consider the delicate balance indecision warranted the WTO to extend talk for an extra two days.

Speaking on the deal after a decision was reached, she said, “the package (unprecedented) of agreements you have reached will make a difference to the lives of people around the world. The outcomes demonstrates that the WTO is in fact capable of responding to emergencies of our time.”

What you should know

The package includes the two high-profile deals under consideration on fisheries and on a partial waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for Covid-19 vaccines.
Notably, the talk around waiver to allow developing countries to produce and export Covid-19 vaccines have lingered for nearly two years with member countries unable to reach a consensus.
If eventually passed, the deal on Covid-19 intellectual property would mean that countries are able to produce and export vaccines without seeking permission from the original maker.
Also the new fishing subsidies deal is believed to have the potential to reverse collapsing fish stocks.

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