WTO approves trade agreements package after days of negotiations

On Friday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) members approved a series of trade agreements that included commitments on fishing and pledges on health and food security after more than five gruelling days of negotiations.

The deals were ground out at the Minister's Conference attended by more than 100 trade ministers in Geneva. The delegations passed a package of six agreements amid geopolitical tensions heightened by the Ukraine war.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that “the package of agreements you have reached will make a difference to the lives of people around the world. The outcomes demonstrate that the WTO is, in fact, capable of responding to emergencies of our time.”

The package, which Okonjo-Iweala called “unprecedented”, includes a partial intellectual property waiver to allow developing countries to produce and export COVID-19 vaccines as a response to the pandemic, progress on fisheries subsidies, a declaration on food security, a rollover of a moratorium on applying duties to electronic transmissions and launching the WTO’s reform.

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