How is the WTO preparing for trade challenges in 2021?

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The challenges in foreign trade and international logistics are increasingly complex, for years it has tried to anticipate possible problems with programs and support in the sectors with the highest risk as well as international organizations that govern the rules for international business.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only international organization that deals with the rules governing trade between countries. The pillars on which it rests are the WTO Agreements, which have been negotiated and signed by most of the countries that participate in world trade and ratified by their respective Parliaments. The objective is to guarantee that commercial exchanges are carried out in the most fluid, predictable and free way possible.

For the WTO, the main challenges to overcome in which the general council is paying more attention are:

  • Commerce
  • Public health
  • Subsidies for fishing
  • The concerns of LDCs

Ensuring access to essential medical products in the event of a pandemic, reaching a global agreement to ban harmful fisheries subsidies and addressing the concerns of the least developed countries “graduates” were some of the topics discussed at the meeting of the General Council of the WTO held on May 5 and 6. Members also exchanged views on ongoing work in the WTO on electronic commerce.

Following discussions on the issue of intellectual property and access to essential medicines and medical equipment for COVID-19, WTO Members proceeded to consider a draft General Council Statement entitled “ Commerce and Health: COVID-19 and beyond ”, and which had the support of 20 delegations. The text indicates the adoption of concrete measures aimed at facilitating trade in essential medical products and at improving the capacity of the trading system to deal with a public health emergency.

The General Council also considered a draft Ministerial Decision presented by the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of the WTO in December 2020, which provides for the establishmentof a transition mechanism for Members that cease to have LDC status, that is to say, that they exceed the exclusionary values of the United Nations and no longer qualify to be considered LDCs.

This with the aim of maintaining the economic and commercial progress achieved by the LDCs and increasing their participation in the foreign trade system.

On the other hand, Members continued discussions on the proposed Brazilian Ministerial Decision, entitled “Support for the conclusion of negotiations on fisheries subsidies for the sustainability of the oceans and fishing communities”. The project proposes that Members commit to achieving “the highest levels of environmental sustainability” in a multilateral agreement on fisheries subsidies.

Members also continued discussions on the ongoing Electronic Commerce Work Program and the moratorium on the imposition of customs duties on electronic transmissions.

The most relevant topics were discussed at the meeting. Where the sole purpose was to ensure a business ready to face the challenges and problems through technology, seeking sustainability at the same time. In this meeting, Mexico had a voice and vote since it is a member of the WTO.

The solutions and working method were put on the table, the experts spoke and ruled the downfall of the trade for this year. There is no doubt that foreign trade is a very complex activity that requires actions by experts to guarantee the development of countries and seek opportunities for all economies.