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Trade ministers of more than 40 countries of the Group of 33 (G33), coordinated by Indonesia, on 25 February issued a clarion call for adopting the much-delayed mandated “permanent solution” for public stockholding (PSH) programs for food security at the WTO’s 13th ministerial conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi.

A day before the commencement of MC13 at the Abu Dhabi conference hall, the G33 trade ministers expressed deep concern that “almost  600 million people will be chronically undernourished in 2030, and hunger will increase significantly in Africa by 2030, as recently projected by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.”


WTO members today (27 February) engaged in intense discussions to get closer to meaningful outcomes on fisheries subsidies and agriculture at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi. Ministers participated in dedicated meetings on both issues followed by convergence-building sessions to seek to bridge the remaining gaps. Members also endorsed the entry into force of new disciplines on services domestic regulation and advanced work on plastics pollution, fossil fuel subsidy reform, and environmental sustainability.



Amidst a tense negotiating climate, the fate of the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference (MC13), which commences on 26 February in Abu Dhabi, will be decided by three main issues among others, said people familiar with the development.

The three issues that could tilt the outcome at MC13 one way or the other are the permanent solution for public stockholding (PSH) programs for food security, the termination/extension of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, and the controversial proposal to integrate the proposed plurilateral agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) into the WTO rule book.

Politico Pro

Here’s a roundup of the issues at stake at the upcoming ministerial:

Fishing subsidies: The WTO reached a partial agreement at its last ministerial conference in June 2022 to curb subsidies that threaten the future of ocean fish supplies.

This time they are trying for a more comprehensive agreement that would hopefully have a much bigger impact on maintaining one of the world’s most important food stocks.

Of all the issues at stake in Abu Dhabi, officials are most hopeful about getting this negotiation over the line. “If there’s no agreement on fish at MC13, that’d be a tragedy,” one Geneva-based diplomat said.

For Okonjo-Iweala, the negotiation is proof the WTO is still relevant. “260 million people depend on fisheries for their livelihood, and the oceans are being overfished. [The question for ministers in Abu Dhabi is] can we save the oceans, be part of the regenerative blue economy and save jobs?” she told POLITICO in an interview.


rom February 26–29, 2024, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Governments from 164 countries will be joined by Timor-Leste and Comoros, the first two nations to join the group since 2017.

At stake is a fight between two visions of what role the WTO, as the world’s most powerful rule-making body in the global economy, should play.

Should the institution expand as an even more corporate-influenced body, with rich countries allowed to set agendas, impose negotiation mechanisms in their favor, and leave poorer countries — and multilateralism itself — in the dustbin of history?

Or should members of the institution recognize the constraints that the current rules place on developing economies, including the harm caused to workers, farmers, and the global environment, and increase flexibilities so that these countries can use trade for their development?

Ministerial Declaration

TWN Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Feb24/07)

The United States and Paraguay, on behalf of the Cairns Group of farm- exporting countries, seemingly clashed with the European Union, Switzerland, and Japan on 6 February over negotiating the mandate on domestic support and market access in agriculture, which is expected to be agreed upon, barring opposition, at the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference (MC13) beginning in Abu Dhabi in three weeks’ time, said people familiar with the discussions.


At a meeting of the agriculture negotiating body on 30 January open to all delegations, the Chair, Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye, introduced a draft negotiating text for members' consideration. Trade officials present welcomed the draft, which they said could serve as a useful basis for the negotiations among WTO members ahead of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), from 26 to 29 February.

Chair introduces draft text for agriculture negotiations in run-up to MC13

"With only four weeks to go before the 13th Ministerial Conference, the negotiations are entering their final stretch. It’s time to focus on what could be achievable at MC13, and also pave the way for a more substantial outcome at MC14," the Chair said. WTO ministerial conferences, which are the organisation’s highest decision-making body, are normally held every two years.


The chair of the Doha agriculture negotiations, Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Turkiye, is understood to have held a meeting with a dozen trade envoys on 9 January to elicit their views on how to finalize an outcome document for trade ministers to adopt at the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference (MC13) that begins in Abu Dhabi on 26 February, said people familiar with the development.

Trade envoys from the United States, the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Cameroon, and South Africa apparently attended the meeting.