WTO eyes initial deal as negotiations continue deep into the night

Ministers at the World Trade Organization(WTO) worked deep into the night on Thursday to reach a deal as news wire Reuters reported that members had reached an initial deal while winning over India.

The ministers have been negotiating in Geneva for the first time since 2017 when the conference collapsed in Buenos Aires.

Also Read: WTO provisionally agrees to extend e-commerce tariff moratorium: Sources

WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala reportedly presented draft trade agreements on Friday but it did not include fisheries and partial waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, reports said.

Watch: India fights for fishery subsidies at WTO meeting

The delegates are set to meet again on Friday to add them later even as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala claimed the package was “unprecedented” while calling upon countries to accept the deal which included food security, health among others. 

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said: “India is convinced that this will turn out to be one of the most successful ministerials that the WTO has seen in a long time,” while adding, “We are very confident that the progress made and the positivity with which everybody is engaged truly is a matter of celebration for the world.”

“We have taken some solid decisions, subject to a few issues being sorted out,” India’s minister added. Major areas under negotiation include waiver of coronavirus patents, food security, fishing subsidies, agriculture, e-commerce and others.

The negotiations went past the Thursday night deadline as countries continue to haggle over various issues. 

“India is not a roadblock on anything,” India’s minister said over the contentious fishing deal.

“People are realising that we were the ones who actually helped create the sole consensus,” the minister added.

The delegates also discussed the possibility of waver of virus patents with Britain’s ambassador in Geneva, Simon Manley indicating that his country was ready for a consensus.

The global trade body comprising 164 members added an extra fifth day to cobble a compromise deal with delegates keen on trade-offs over a broad spectrum of issues.

(With inputs from Agencies)


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