For the first time in a decade, WTO members reach historic deal at Geneva

What is the News?

For the first time in a decade, the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have finalized a historic deal at the 12th Ministerial Conference(MC12).

Note: The WTO’s rules dictate that all decisions are taken by consensus, with any single member able to exercise a veto.

What are the major outcomes of a deal at the 12th Ministerial Conference(MC12)?
TRIPS Waiver

On TRIPS (trade-related intellectual property rights) waiver, an agreement could be reached only on vaccines. But not on diagnostics and therapeutics.

Still, the agreement on patent waiver on Covid-19 vaccines will allow developing countries to waive intellectual property protections on the vaccines without the patent holder’s permission in order to spur domestic production of the medicines.

On Food Security

The countries decided not to impose export prohibitions or restrictions on foodstuffs purchased for non-commercial humanitarian purposes by the World Food Programme. However, internal food security concerns will take precedence.

Also, there is no work programme on agriculture. This could be considered as a good outcome for India as India’s agri-subsidy will not face any further scrutiny.

On E-Transmission Moratorium

The countries agreed to extend a moratorium on applying duties to electronic transmissions until the next ministerial meeting, likely in 2023.

However, the moratorium would expire in March 2024 should the next conference be postponed.

On Fisheries Subsidies

The countries agreed to put in place rules to prohibit subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. 

Source: The post is based on the article “For the first time in a decade, WTO members reach historic deal at Geneva” published in Business Standard on 17th June 2022.

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