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Major outcomes achieved at WTO

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Effects of liberalisation on the economy (post-1991 changes), changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

 

Context:

This is in continuation of the article published in Current Affairs on 18th June 2022

Important Deals struck:

  • Fisheries: Countries agreed to check on illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and overfishing; no subsidies for fishing in areas outside of RFMOs (regional fisheries management organizations) and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); and strict control on overfished areas.
    • India’s demand for curb on non-specific fuel subsidies for fisheries was not accepted.
    • The pact says that members will need to come out with comprehensive disciplines within the next four years, or see the current agreement terminated.

 

  • Food security: member countries would not impose export prohibitions or restrictions on foodstuffs purchased for humanitarian purposes of the WFP. (except for ensuring domestic food security)

 

<strong>What is overfishing? </strong>

Overfishing refers to exploiting fishes at a pace faster than they could replenish themselves — currently standing at 34% as per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 

    • However, negotiators could not reach agreements on issues such as permissible public stockholding threshold for domestic food security, domestic support to agriculture, cotton, and market access.
  • E-commerce mortorium: WTO extended moratorium ( moratorium means a temporary prohibition) on imposing customs duties on electronic transmission.
    • This moratorium has been in place since 1998 and developing countries have been losing revenue because of it. India had opposed any further extension.
  • WTO reforms: Dispute settlement Body (DSB) will be revived. Also, focus area for WTO will be -Gender, Enviroment and MSME
<strong>What is Electronic Transmission (ET)? </strong>

ETs consist of online deliveries such as music, e-books, films, software and video games. They differ from other cross-border e-commerce since they are ordered online but not delivered physically.

 

  • IP on Covid vaccines: Countries have been allowed to produce vaccines patented elsewhere, without any consent and limit on their export.
    • Previously, TRIPS Patent rules (during the 1986-94 Uruguay round) shifted the focus from ‘process patent’ to ‘product patent’ after including intellectual property rights in the rules of trade.
<strong>What is WTO’s ministerial conference? </strong>
  • The MC is at the very top decision making body of WTO.
  • It meets once every two years and can take decisions on all matters under any multilateral trade agreement.
  • Unlike other organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund or World Bank, WTO does not delegate power to a board of directors or an organisational chief. All decisions at the WTO are made collectively and through consensus among member countries at varied councils and committees.
  • This year’s conference (13th MC) took place in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Sources: The Hindu, Live Mint