WTO chief welcomes India’s commitment to support the World Trade Organization – Eurasia Review
By Jamshed Baruah
The world trade organization (WTO) Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala hailed India’s pledge of support to the WTO and the success of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) to be held from November 30 to December 3, 2021 in Geneva. The rally was originally scheduled to take place June 8-11, 2020, in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The head of the WTO paid a three-day visit to India on October 22, during which she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country’s trade, finance and foreign ministers.
“I wanted to share with Prime Minister Modi and his senior officials where we are with regard to the preparations for MC12 and ensure India’s leadership,” said DG Okonjo-Iweala. “India is a leader, India has a strong voice in the WTO and if we are to have a successful MC12 India’s leadership will be very important.”
Okonjo-Iweala is the seventh Director-General of the WTO, the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. She took office on March 1, 2021, becoming the first woman and the first African to lead this important body. His term will expire on August 31, 2025.
While in India, she wanted to “ensure that the agreements are balanced, taking into account the views of developing and equitably developed members”. She added: âNo one, including India, benefits from a WTO incapable of addressing urgent challenges such as removing barriers to access to vaccines, stopping the depletion of fish stocks in the country. the world and ensuring food security. We look forward to India’s leadership in meeting these challenges.
Okonjo-Iweala discussed with Mr. Modi multilateralism, structural reforms of the Indian economy and the road to MC12. Mr. Modi stressed that India is a great democracy and that it is necessary to listen to India and take into account its views. The Prime Minister also reiterated his support and that of India for the WTO.
WTO Director General congratulated the Prime Minister and his government on passing the milestone of administering one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine as well as India’s recent move to lift restrictions for the export of vaccines.
With South Africa, India has requested approval of an intellectual property rights (IPR) waiver for COVID-19 vaccines so that they can produce the vaccines – specifically Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines and Moderna – to help their countries as well as many developing countries recover from the pandemic faster.
But the European Union (EU), UK, Japan and Australia are holding the world hostage by refusing to support a patent waiver on COVID-19 vaccines. Therefore, the World Trade Organization (WTO) leftovers
The WTO chief also highlighted India’s important leadership role in the WTO and the need for members to be flexible to achieve results at the Ministerial Conference. A successful MC12 is important for the future of the organization and the multilateral trading system as a whole, she stressed.
DG Okonjo-Iweala also met with business leaders and vaccine manufacturers on October 21 at events organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry. She heard from industry representatives about the current supply chain challenges they face and what the WTO could do to help address them. She urged the Indian business community to take a more proactive role in WTO discussions and said their support was necessary for success at MC12.
The CEO heard from vaccine manufacturers about their efforts to speed up production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the challenges they face in overcoming bottlenecks and securing supply chains.
She noted the work done by her and other agency heads on the Multilateral Leaders’ Working Group on COVID-19 to help track, coordinate and advance the delivery of COVID-19 health tools to developing countries and mobilize efforts to remove critical barriers. Vaccine makers have raised concerns about a possible global excess vaccine manufacturing capacity as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.
The CEO also met on October 21 with a group of Indian technology companies and start-ups to discuss how the digital economy is contributing to India’s development and the various initiatives underway in areas such as electronic payments, digital health and the development of new e-commerce platforms.
On October 22, she met with women representatives from various self-help groups engaged in efforts to meet the needs of the poorest communities during the pandemic. Discussions underscored the DG’s call to the WTO to return to its core principles of using trade to promote sustainable development and employment and raise living standards.