Kazakhstan wraps up its WTO CM-12 presidency with historic agreements on fisheries, food security and e-commerce
NUR-SULTAN – The 12th Ministerial Conference (MC-12) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) chaired by Kazakhstan concluded on June 17 with the adoption of major decisions on fisheries, food security, fight against COVID-19 and e-commerce, reports the presidential press service.
Kazakhstan, a member of the WTO since November 2015, co-hosted the conference and Timur Suleimenov, deputy head of the presidential cabinet, chaired it. The country was supposed to host the conference in June 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After several days of intense discussions, trade ministers from 164 WTO member countries have adopted a landmark agreement banning subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. This agreement aims to limit overfishing in order to preserve the livelihoods of communities who depend on fishing for their food security and jobs.
A trust fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to developing countries to implement the agreement was also announced.
This is the first time the WTO has established a multilateral agreement to support sustainability and protect oceans and fish stocks. Under international law, it will now be illegal to subsidize vessels involved in illegal and unregulated fishing and to subsidize fishing in unregulated areas of the high seas.
Ministers also agreed to allow limited intellectual property rights to produce safe and effective vaccines and to expand vaccine supply to developing and least developed countries, a major step forward in ensuring access equitable and equitable global distribution of vaccines, which is crucial in the fight against COVID-19.
To provide food to poor countries in light of rising food prices, ministers decided to lift export bans or restrictions on humanitarian purchases planned by the United Nations World Food Programme. They adopted a declaration on food security, reaffirming the importance of avoiding restrictions on the export of foodstuffs.
Recognizing the importance of the development of digital services and products, especially during the pandemic and economic recovery, the conference agreed to continue the implementation of the work program on e-commerce and to extend the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transactions until the next ministerial conference of the WTO, a decisive victory for the digital economy.
The decision is based on numerous studies that indicate the economic benefits of the moratorium on e-commerce, particularly beneficial for developing and least developed countries, as well as for large and small companies.
Kazakhstan’s successful chairmanship has been facilitated by regular high-level dialogue. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has repeatedly stressed the strategic importance of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the WTO and the country’s readiness to contribute to the settlement of all issues on the agenda of the WTO negotiations .
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala praised Kazakhstan’s chairmanship and thanked the leadership and government of Kazakhstan for cooperation in preparing for the conference and for flexibility in resolving issues. problems, including his transfer from Nur-Sultan to Geneva due to the pandemic.
In her closing remarks to the conference, she stressed that trade was part of the solution to the current crises, and that the set of agreements reached demonstrated the ability of WTO member countries to come together to overcome the geopolitical divides, respond to global challenges, solve environmental problems and promote greater social and economic integration.