WTO announces new global trade deals– June 2022
Amidst geopolitical tensions and the backdrop of the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has agreed on the first change to global trading rules in years with pledges to boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Amongst seven agreements within multicultural trade deals and declarations, the events of the conference of more than 100 trade ministers will boost the credibility of the WTO, which was weakened by former U.S. President Donald Trump's crippling of its ability to intervene in trade disputes, and set it on a course for reform.
The package of deals, which the WTO chief called ‘unprecedented’, included the highest profile deals on fisheries and a partial waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19 vaccines. The accord to curb fishing subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has aims to reverse collapsing fish stocks, addressing one of the key drivers of global over-fishing. The deal on a partial IP waiver to allow developing countries to produce and export COVID-19 vaccines has divided the WTO for nearly two years, but finally passed. However, fierce criticism has been observed from campaign groups, mentioning that it barely expands on existing exemptions and is too narrow by not covering therapeutics and diagnostics.
Nonetheless, the WTO conference had clinched outcomes of global significance despite unprecedented challenges, signifying the possibility of further reforms.