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OWINFS

The WTO Secretariat and sponsors of the Reference Paper on Services Domestic Regulation will attempt to spin on the announcement that India and South Africa have withdrawn their objections to its adoption through schedules to the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) as an outcome of this MC13.

This is not an outcome of the ministerial. This issue was addressed in Geneva. It is still being addressed in the correct forum mandated to address this issue, the Working Party on Domestic Regulation.

There are several legal and procedural issues that remain outstanding and still need to be addressed, including how to ensure that procedural rules that relate to amending schedules of commitments do not get abused to circumvent the rules of amendment under the Marrkesh Agreement.

Civil Society call on the Members, as the next step, to discuss long-standing concerns with this reference paper in that proper forum.

Swis Info

Intellectual property protection for the Swiss pharmaceutical industry has been a key sticking point in negotiations on a free trade agreement with India. Now there seems to be a breakthrough in talks after 16 years. What’s changed?

TWN

 More than 120 countries on 25 February circulated the Joint Ministerial Declaration on Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) at the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, setting the stage for a tense battle over the entry of the IFD Agreement into the WTO on procedural and systemic grounds, said people familiar with the development.

India and South Africa have consistently blocked the entry of the IFD agreement as a plurilateral agreement on both procedural and systemic grounds.

TWN

After maintaining a rather low profile for 23 years, China seems to be asserting its influence at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), set to commence on 26 February in Abu Dhabi, said people familiar with the development.

Upon its access to the World Trade Organization at its fourth ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, China initially assumed a cautious stance.

TWN

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.”

 

Tonight, a sub-group of WTO Members will celebrate the conclusion of a break-away agreement on investment facilitation and try to secure its adoption as a plurilateral agreement at this week’s 13th ministerial conference.  That can only be done by consensus.

The convenors – South Korea and Chile, backed by China – have announced that plan, in the face of sustained objections from India and South Africa that these negotiations have no legitimacy.

WTO Members have explicitly rejected attempts to get an investment agreement ever since 1996. A decision in 2004 said no discussion of investment negotiations in the WTO until the Doha round is over. It is not. In the 2015 Nairobi Ministerial Conference, WTO Members agreed that any such new issues will only be addressed if agreed by all Members.

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TWN

The World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference (MC13) starting in Abu Dhabi on 26 February seems like a proverbial clash of “Goliath vs David” over the proposed termination of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions, and the proposed controversial plurilateral agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD), said people familiar with the development.

MSF

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is extremely concerned about a recent announcement that the global cholera vaccine stockpile has been exhausted. As a high number of countries are reporting outbreaks, more manufacturers—existing and new—must urgently help boost the global supply, said MSF.

WTO

Ministers representing 123 WTO members issued on 25 February a Joint Ministerial Declaration marking the finalization of the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement and made it available to the public. Ministers also issued a submission asking for the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13), taking place in Abu Dhabi on 26-29 February, to incorporate the IFD Agreement into Annex 4 of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO. Participants represent three-quarters of the WTO membership, including close to 90 developing economies and 26 least-developed economies.