DDG Ellard stresses need to maintain WTO momentum, importance of dispute settlement reform. - "QazTrade" Trade Policy Development Center" JSC

DDG Ellard stresses need to maintain WTO momentum, importance of dispute settlement reform.


In her remarks to the American Enterprise Institute and Brookings Institution on 6 December, Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard highlighted that work continues at the WTO despite the postponement of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).

In particular, there are two key issues that still need to be addressed for which momentum must be maintained — the WTO’s response to the pandemic and fisheries subsidies.

When asked about the relationship between multilateral and plurilateral initiatives, as well as regional trade agreements, DDG Ellard noted that they coexist and complement each other. “The future is not plurilateral or multilateral; it belongs to the agreements of variable geometries,” she said. At the same time, issues of the global commons, such as fisheries subsidies or developing a single instrument regulating carbon pricing, can effectively be addressed only on a multilateral basis.

DDG Ellard underlined that consensus is “the heart and soul” of the WTO, when she was asked about the structure and effectiveness of the WTO structure. The WTO is its 164 members, and any changes in the decision-making process has to emanate from them, she added. She further stressed that the organization is able to function only when there is trust among its members. In this regard, she underlined the need for more transparency and the role that the WTO’s monitoring function plays in enhancing transparency.

With regard to dispute settlement, DDG Ellard noted that “WTO rules, whether they are new or old, have only a limited usefulness if they can’t be enforced.” Stressing the member-driven nature of the WTO, DDG Ellard observed that it’s up to members to determine the next steps for the Appellate Body and what is needed to fix it.

WTO report recommends ways to ease trade bottlenecks in landlocked developing countries[1]

A new WTO publication launched on 8 December highlights the high trade costs faced by landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) due to their isolation from the world’s largest markets. The report recommends ways to address these trade challenges so that LLDCs can increase their participation in international trade and accelerate their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

«Easing Trade Bottlenecks in Landlocked Developing Countries» delves into the specific challenges that LLDCs face when trading internationally, including supply chain constraints, reliance on transit countries for imports and exports and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on LLDCs’ economies.

The study finds that LLDCs’ trade costs are 1.4 times higher than those of developing countries with a coastline. It also details LLDCs’ vulnerability to climate change but notes the benefits that trade in services and e-commerce can bring to these countries.

LLDCs’ already fragile trade and economic situation was further exacerbated by measures taken by governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The study notes a 40 per cent decline in LLDCs’ exports between April 2019 and April 2020.

The study stresses that implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement is critical for easing the flow of goods across borders. It also underlines the importance of improving transport connectivity, putting digital technology at the forefront of policy objectives, reducing trade costs through customs digitalization, and adapting rules of origin and sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures to LLDCs’ special needs. These measures can help ease LLDCs’ trade-related logjams and enhance their participation in the multilateral trading system. They will also help to promote LLDCs’ economic recovery and boost their resilience to crises.

A total of 32 countries fall into the LLDC category. Of these, 26 are WTO members and six are observers. As a whole, LLDCS represent 1.105 per cent of world trade as of 2019.

The report can be accessed here: 

https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/publications_e/landlocked2021_e.htm

Chair of fisheries subsidies negotiations outlines next steps for work in the new year[2]

Fisheries subsidies negotiations aim to conclude as quickly as possible in the new year, the chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia reported on 10 December 2021 following consultations held in the wake of the postponement of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12). Work will continue in January 2022 to refine the draft fisheries subsidies agreement for ministers’ consideration.

Just days before the postponement of MC12, Ambassador Wills had submitted a draft agreement on fisheries subsidies for the consideration of ministers. The draft is based on the collective efforts of WTO members and represents the most likely way to build consensus after more than 20 years of negotiations.

Germany gives CHF 2.8 million to help developing countries meet SPS standards, combat COVID-19[3]

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has contributed EUR 2,675,000 (approximately CHF 2.8 million) for 2021-2024 to the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) to help developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) meet international food safety, animal and plant health standards for trade. The contribution will also help these countries to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and to recover from the pandemic.

The German contribution will be used to develop and support projects that will strengthen the ability of small-scale farmers, producers, traders and governments to access global and regional markets for food and agriculture products, in line with the STDF’s Strategy for 2020-2024. This investment in food safety, animal and plant health capacity is critical for developing countries, not only to support economic recovery but also longer-term resilience against COVID-19 and similar shocks.


[1] https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news21_e/publ_08dec21_e.htm

[2] https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news21_e/fish_10dec21_e.htm

[3] https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres21_e/pr894_e.htm

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