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WTO Chief hails support from many countries at Davos

By TIOL News Service

DAVOS, JAN 25, 2020: THE Director-General of WTO, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, welcomed the strong support expressed at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week by ministers, heads of state, private sector and labour leaders for ongoing efforts to reform and reinforce the WTO to keep up with changing business realities.

Towards the end of the annual gathering, the Swiss government convened an informal meeting of trade ministers yesterday.

A recurring theme in their deliberations was the importance of the WTO dispute settlement system and the need to solve the impasse in its appeals stage. Ministers and senior officials also emphasised the need to deliver meaningful outcomes at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, this June – particularly a multilateral agreement on disciplining fisheries subsidies. Calls were also made for progress in agriculture as well as the multiple joint statement initiatives in which groups of like-minded WTO members have been negotiating on issues such as investment facilitation, electronic commerce and services domestic regulation.

Earlier in the week, DG Azevêdo attended, at the organizers’ invitation, a Canada-led gathering on WTO reform as well as meetings of the groups of members negotiating agreements on investment facilitation for development and electronic commerce.

In addition to a number of bilateral meetings with political, business, and labour leaders, he participated in sessions organized by the World Economic Forum. While there was near-universal support for the WTO among his interlocutors, he felt a growing sense of urgency with regard to the ongoing reform process.

The Swiss-organised informal ministerial gathering was attended by a representative cross-section of the WTO membership.

Ministers from 16 members issued a joint statement on the WTO dispute settlement system, promising to work together to develop a multi-party interim appeal arrangement based on Article 25 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU). 


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