The director general of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okunjo-Iwala, urged governments to stop export restrictions on food to help alleviate the growing famine caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At the start of the body’s first ministerial meeting in five years, Okonju-Iwala said she hoped countries would agree to a declaration on food security that would restrict the use of “things like restrictions and bans on exports” that “could make the issue worse.”
A ban on exports by large food producers raised prices for importers during the 2008-09 food crisis, she noted, adding: “Our members are trying to figure out how they will try to refrain from doing such things. This is a very important contribution they can make to prevent food prices from rising. “.
At least 30 countries have imposed such oversight, according to the International Monetary Fund. Ukraine was among the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but most of the crop was stuck in warehouses after a Russian closure on its ports.
The UN is leading talks aimed at ensuring a safe passage to the cargo ships carrying the grain.
Okonju-Iwala said she also hopes countries will agree that there will be no restrictions on sales to the World Food Program, to the UN Division dealing with hunger and Food security.
The WFP said this month that 750,000 people are facing hunger today, with an “all-time record” of 49 million people in 46 countries At risk of succumbing to hunger Or hunger-like conditions.
56 ministers, including those from the European Union, Singapore and Ecuador, met in Geneva ahead of the opening of the MC12 on Monday, the 12th Ministerial Conference in WTO History, and Agreed on a statement of support For Ukraine. They pledged to help him export.
The MC12 was rejected twice because of Cubid-19. Okonju-Iwala admitted that there were still differences between the 164 members in the five areas the meeting had hoped to decide on. God WTO Works on consensus so each state can block a deal.
It also called on countries to accept compromises. “This is a negotiation forum. It has become a dictation forum. One side says I want it and the other says I want it. There are no negotiations.”
Talks on the five issues on which the yeshiva hopes to reach deals are busy, according to Geneva officials.
India, South Africa and Indonesia have not yet agreed to continue the tariff freeze on digital products, which will expire this month. If not, countries will be able to tax cross-border services such as movies, social media messages and banking transactions.
Countries also disagree on how to change WTO intellectual property protection to allow poorer countries to produce cheaper generic versions of cobid vaccines. There is growing agreement to allow governments to issue mandatory licenses for local drug production, with some compensation to the rights holders.
Ministers still can not even agree on parameters for future talks on reducing subsidies to agriculture.
Attempts to abolish the most harmful fishing subsidies seem closer, but some developing countries with large fleets like India and China want certain exemptions from supervision.
Finally, Okonjo-Iweala hopes ministers will form a WTO reform group. It has not brokered a world trade agreement since its inception in 1995 and it deals with complex areas such as forced labor and sustainable development.
She said ministers needed to find a “political will” to produce concrete results by the end of Wednesday’s meeting. “Let’s see if we can get one or two products. I’m optimistic that we can.”
WTO takes aim at export controls in effort to stem rising food prices Source link WTO takes aim at export controls in effort to stem rising food prices