OMC – La Directora General Okonjo-Iweala pide redoblen esfuerzos en negociación de acuerdos y cosechen resultados




El 21 de enero, la Directora General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala pidió a los Ministros de un amplio espectro de Miembros de la OMC que impulsaran todas las negociaciones en curso y trabajaran con “pragmatismo, creatividad y flexibilidad” para cosechar acuerdos tan pronto como estén a su alcance. Los Ministros aceptaron ampliamente su sugerencia de acelerar la labor, tanto en Ginebra como en las capitales, para que los Miembros de la OMC puedan obtener resultados a pesar de la incertidumbre acerca de la reprogramación de la Duodécima Conferencia Ministerial (CM12), que fue aplazada debido al brote de la variante ómicron.

The informal gathering of around 30 trade ministers is traditionally hosted by the Swiss government in Davos but was held virtually this year in line with the World Economic Forum’s decision to cancel its in-person annual meeting.

In her remarks to the event, the Director-General noted that pandemic-related uncertainty would continue to prevail so long as large numbers of people in much of the world remained unvaccinated against COVID-19 – and that the WTO had a contribution to make in ending vaccine inequity. She said that while the desire to hold an in-person MC12 was widely shared, the changing epidemiological conditions made it difficult to set a date at this time. This does not rule out reassessing and fixing a date at a more propitious time since there was clearly a desire on the part of members to schedule a physical ministerial at some point.

DG Okonjo-Iweala said the Secretariat was preparing for all possible scenarios for holding a meeting: short, medium and long-term. In the meantime, instead of focusing on when to hold a ministerial, she urged ministers to focus on delivering results that would benefit people around the world.

To this end, DG Okonjo-Iweala encouraged ministers to empower their ambassadors in Geneva to make political compromises and narrow outstanding gaps. She called for members to take advantage of hybrid and virtual meeting formats to have capital-based technical experts participate in real time, which has already been happening in the fisheries subsidies negotiations. She asked ministers to make themselves available to be called upon to break logjams, and to reach out to those with whom they disagree in an attempt to find common ground. This kind of continuous engagement, in Geneva and in capitals, would help members clean up the draft negotiating texts currently on the table, she said.

Once convergence is within reach in a given area, the Director-General said, ministers could be brought in, whether virtually or in-person, to finalise and bless the outcome. Alternatively, the General Council could also adopt agreements.

The Director-General called ministers’ attention to the key sticking points on the WTO’s response to the pandemic, fisheries subsidies and agriculture, while also making the case for moving ahead with WTO reform, including dispute settlement.

In their interventions, many ministers said that while they want to hold MC12 when circumstances permit, they would be prepared to continue work in all areas in the interim and conclude negotiations where achievable. As countries seek to promote recovery from the social and economic consequences of the pandemic, many highlighted the importance of ensuring adequate access to medical products, including vaccines. A number of ministers said the negotiations on pandemic response and fisheries subsidies should be concluded as soon as possible.

The Director-General took the floor at the end of the meeting to thank ministers for their constructive interventions and willingness to get on with negotiations. «From this moment forward we are not going to stop,» she told ministers, warning them to be ready to «roll up their sleeves» when she calls upon them to engage in small groups to resolve stubborn logjams. «Let’s get it done,» she concluded.

Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin’s concluding remarks, as well as a list of participating ministers, are available here.