13th Ministerial Conference of WTO kicks off; Majority of Members ink Investment Deal for Development


KATHMANDU, FEBRUARY 27: The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has kicked off amidst a grand inauguration ceremony in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. It took place yesterday with the participation of trade ministers and senior government officials from over 160 UN member states.

This four-day event, also attended by private sector leaders, NGOs, and civil society representatives, is discussing international trade rules and regulations. The aim is to work together toward advancing a more efficient, sustainable, and inclusive trading system.

Member states are planned to adopt a declaration at the conclusion of the conference. The draft declaration has already been circulated among the member states as the negotiations are underway to give it a final shape.

The MC13 is taking place amid a section of countries increasingly questioning the effectiveness of this body to help poor and underdeveloped countries. Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Ramesh Rijal is currently in Abu Dhabi to lead Nepali delegation to the MC13.

MC12 held in Geneva in June 2022 is claimed to have seen significant strides in areas such as fisheries subsidies, food security, and e-commerce. In this light, MC13 is set to focus on enhancing the access of developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to the global trading system, intellectual property, and WTO dispute resolution mechanisms.

It may be noted that hours before the he trade body kicked off its 13th ministerial conference, over 120 WTO member states finalised an agreement that aims to facilitate investment in developing countries by improving transparency and clearing bureaucratic hurdles.

The Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement, signed by 75 percent of the World Trade Organization’s members, would require full consensus before it could be formally incorporated, as per the body’s rules.

Despite broad backing, some members may still oppose its integration into the WTO, including India, which typically objects to agreements that do not cover all countries.

The deal aims to facilitate “the flow of foreign direct investment particularly to developing and least-developed” countries with the aim of fostering sustainable development, according to the text.

To achieve this, participating countries have agreed “to improve the transparency of measures, streamline administrative procedures, adopt other investment facilitation measures and promote international cooperation.”

(Source: Different National and International News Agencies)