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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)

 

What is overfishing?

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
What is Electronic Transmission (ET)?

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.
What is WTO’s ministerial conference?
  • 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