GENEVA: After two nights of intense negotiations, World Trade Organisation (WTO) members are on course to announce a package of measures, including a response to Covid and steps to check harmful fishing subsidies, sources said on Friday.
After a gap of about nine years, the WTO members reached a pact -- fisheries subsidies agreement. The four-day talks which began on June 12 concluded on early Friday.
It was in 2013 at the Bali ministerial conference of the WTO, that the member countries inked the trade facilitation agreement to promote seamless movement of goods across the global borders.
"All agreements fully agreed and were unanimously signed. A decision on a temporary patent (TRIPS) waiver is expected any time soon. We are just waiting for the US approval on it," the sources said.
A formal announcement on all these issues is likely to be announced anytime soon.
One of the sources said that for the first time subsides on overfishing, deep-sea fishing and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing have been addressed through the proposed pact.
"On India's instance, sovereign sights on EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zones) have been firmly established. It is really a big achievement," the source said, adding that principal stakeholders who have benefited from these "historic decisions" taken by the 12th ministerial conference of the WTO are fishermen, farmers, food security, multilateralism, and trade and business, particularly digital economy and MSMEs.
It was also agreed to find a final solution to the issue of continuation of the moratorium on imposing customs duties on electronic transmission of goods by the next ministerial conference of the WTO or not later than March 2024.
One of the sources termed this the most successful conference in the history of the WT0 as it has revitalised the organisation.
"It has restored multilateralism. India took a major leadership role and was the voice of the developing world and the LDCs (Least Developed Countries). The developing countries were building consensus and providing solutions to break every deadlock from time to time during the different sessions and meetings," they added.
A decision on all the issues reflects camaraderie between developed and developing member countries.
"Great team effort was there while agreeing on the issues. Concerns of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries) region were fully addressed on the fisheries decision," the sources said.
They added that the Indian delegation, which was headed by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, was continuously getting guidance and direction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The focus of the Indian team was to protect the interests of fishermen and farmers.
These decisions also send a strong signal that the world can come together in critical areas like food security and humanitarian crises like the pandemic.
"The narrative has clearly turned on its head and those who thought that India was obstructing finally woke up to the reality that it was India that helped set the agenda, brought cohesion, covered a wide variety of subjects and became the solution provider at every critical issue," one of the sources said.