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American Shipper

WTO seeks ‘achievable’ goals at next ministerial meeting

With the approach of the World Trade Organization’s next ministerial conference in Buenos Aires Dec. 10-13, the meeting’s chairman urged member countries to focus on trade issues “ripe” for decision, and agree on those longer term issues to tackle next.

   With the approach of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) next ministerial conference in Buenos Aires on Dec. 10-13, the meeting’s chairman urged member countries to focus on trade issues “ripe” for decision, and then agree on those issues that will take more work to evolve after the meeting.
   “There is life after Buenos Aires. And if we have a combination of results and processes after Buenos Aires almost everything on the table could be put into one of those baskets and the meeting can be considered a success,” said Susana Malcorra, Argentine minister and chairman of the 11th Ministerial Conference, in a statement.
   Malcorra recently met with 40 trade ministers at a meeting Marrakesh, Morocco, on Oct. 9-10 designed to bridge differences between members ahead of the ministerial conference
   One those issues, which Malcorra believes is ready for the trade body’s agreement, is on the reduction of fisheries subsidies, despite ongoing differing views on how far to reduce those subsidies.
   She suggested that some aspects of the agreement could be reached during the ministerial conference, while others might be concluded at the next ministerial conference in 2019.
   Other trade-related issues are on the table for the WTO, including improvements to trade in services, electronic commerce, and increased participation in global trade by smaller companies and women entrepreneurs.
   Agriculture remains the WTO’s biggest challenge. Countries continue to defend their programs to ensure adequate food holdings for security purposes and domestic subsidies to support farmers. Malcorra also noted that the cotton trade, which needs reform, will be a tough conversation for a number of WTO members.
   Malcorra said ultimately it’s important for the WTO demonstrate that trade can be inclusive and bring benefits to people anywhere in the world.
   “Our people require that whatever we do in these halls reflects them and includes them,” she said. “At a moment when there is introspection about how trade affects people we need to do everything we can to demonstrate this.”