Key Takeaways from the 13th Ministerial Conference of the WTO

By Biswajit Dhar, Ranja Sengupta, and Abhijit Das | Commentary | March 11, 2024

The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization ended in Abu Dhabi with minimal consensus. MC13 was scheduled to end on February 29 but was extended by a day as the WTO’s 166 members failed to reach consensus on several key issues, such as agriculture, fisheries subsidies, ending the moratorium on e-commerce trade, and dispute settlement reform.

Despite high hopes, MC13 failed to deliver positive results for the global trading system amid worsening geopolitical tensions and economic headwinds. Except for a last-minute deal to extend the moratorium on e-commerce trade for two years (until MC14), MC13 ended without a decision on a permanent…

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Making Sense of Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (II)

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | February 20, 2024

With less than a week to go until the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), to be held in Abu Dhabi from February 26, consensus from all members on support for the proposed Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (IFDA) is still missing. The proposed IFDA has thus far received the support of three-quarters of WTO members, while some prominent members, such as India and South Africa, have opposed this initiative and may not give their consent to the proposed IFDA at MC13.

The supporting countries, led by China, seek to incorporate the proposed agreement into the WTO rulebook as a standalone plurilateral agreement under Annex…

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Making Sense of Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (I)

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | November 28, 2023

Hectic parleys are currently underway to incorporate a new agreement on investment facilitation at the World Trade Organization after 112 WTO members concluded text negotiations on an Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (IFDA) on 6 July 2023. WTO members participating in the talks on IFDA hope that the proposed agreement will reach another important milestone at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) to be held in Abu Dhabi in February 2024. The Ministerial Conference is the WTO’s highest decision-making body, attended by trade ministers and other senior officials from the organization’s 164 members.

However, the prospects of achieving another major milestone at MC13 remain bleak as…

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Why the WTO’s Claims on Addressing Climate Change are Unfounded

By Biswajit Dhar | Commentary | December 12, 2022

On the eve of the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that took place in Egypt last month, the World Trade Organization (WTO) released a report titled, “The World Trade Report 2022: Climate Change and International Trade”, highlighting the importance of global trade rules for arresting global warming.

Coincidentally, three decades back, WTO’s predecessor organisation, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had done likewise to showcase the relevance of trade rules for protecting the environment when the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), or the “Earth Summit”, was drawing up a comprehensive set…

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Making Sense of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

By Biswajit Dhar | Commentary | June 12, 2022

On May 23, the Joe Biden administration took a significant step to turn the clock back to the Obama Presidency by launching its own version of a “pivot to Asia” through the establishment of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) with other partner countries — Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Within days of its launch, IPEF expanded its membership to the Pacific Island states, with Fiji joining the initiative.

An American initiative to bring together its allies in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance economic cooperation is bound to lead to comparisons…

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