IGTC Delegation at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference

On the photo (left to right): Nezar Abou-Ismail, IGTC MENA Ambassador, Gary C. Martin, Executive Advisor NAEGA, Mariya-Khrystyna Koziy, IGTC Secretariat

The IGTC delegation attended the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This year’s theme, 'Delivering for People Through Trade,' defined the focus of the delegation's work during a challenging week of intense negotiations. High on the agenda were topics such as dispute settlement system reform, development and sustainability matters, fisheries subsidies, and agricultural negotiations.
Initially scheduled for February 26-29, the Conference was extended until March 2nd to allow necessary time to reach outcomes on various issues. Despite efforts, no outcome was reached on agriculture reform and the second part of the fisheries agreement due to divergence of positions on several key elements. On the dispute settlement mechanism, Members agreed to accelerate discussions in 2024, build on the progress already made, and work on unresolved issues.
Additionally, Members adopted the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration, committing to preserving and strengthening the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core, to address current trade challenges. The declaration emphasizes the development dimension, acknowledging the WTO's role in achieving the UN 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. It also recognizes the importance of women's economic empowerment, highlights the crucial role of services in the global economy, and urges continued efforts to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic for future preparedness. WTO also formally approved the accession of two new Members – Comoros and Timor-Leste. All adopted decisions are available here.
On the sidelines, the IGTC delegation held numerous bilateral meetings with representatives of international institutions, other NGOs, and WTO delegations, as well as attended WEF TradeTech Forum, WTO Business Forum, and sessions organized by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) at the Trade Hub.
The discussions and the broad level of engagement confirmed the strong interest of the stakeholders in strengthening the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core. The side-sessions focused on digital solutions for trade facilitation, innovations to support sustainability and green transition, and tools to rebuild trust in the system and implement existing obligations.