UAE: Top global ministers to decide on crucial trade issues at Abu Dhabi summit

The four-day forum will serve as a platform for member states to address challenges, refine rules and set the agenda for global trade policy


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 22 Feb 2024, 5:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Feb 2024, 9:06 PM

Top ministers, leaders and officials will strive to narrow their differences and reach agreements on crucial trade issues as they gather for the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Abu Dhabi from Monday.

The four-day forum will serve as a platform for member states to address challenges, refine rules and set the agenda for global trade policy.

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade and Chair of the MC13, sounded optimistic despite global challenges and uncertainties.

“Good outcomes. Moving things forward. These are going to be our ultimate goal,” the minister told Khaleej Times as the Capital gears for side events starting from Friday.

Dr Al Zeyoudi noted that reform and moratorium will be among the key topics discussed and negotiated during the Ministerial Conference – the highest decision-making body of the WTO.

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Moratorium is a “big topic. It’s either yes or no”, whereas reform is a “complex topic”, he said.

India is reportedly not in favour of further continuation of the moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce trade as it is impacting developing countries. As per estimates, the potential tariff revenue loss to developing countries is estimated at $10 billion annually.

Dr Al Zeyoudi pointed out several “informal good discussions” held last year, which can result in positive results on the negotiation table next week.

He underlined an inclusive multilateral trading system is essential for fostering economic growth, creating jobs, and raising living standards.

“At MC13, ministers and senior officials around the world can help ensure that global trade lives up to this promise by reviewing and refining its rules, confronting issues that prevent the free flow of goods and services, and supporting the needs of every nation that wishes to benefit from the multilateral trading system.”

Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), underscored that the conference will see international trade leaders and shapers tackle the pressing issues and devise innovative solutions to challenges.

Meanwhile, private sector leaders, NGOs, and representatives of civil society will join the politicians in working together towards advancing a more efficient, sustainable, and inclusive trading system. The conference is set to build on the progress achieved during MC12, held in Geneva in June 2022, which made substantive breakthroughs in fisheries subsidies, food insecurity, and e-commerce. Focus areas will include improving the ability of developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to access the global trading system, intellectual property, and WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism.

The forum will also provide an opportunity to explore greater collaboration and partnership with non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and civil society to enhance the effectiveness of trade policies and programmes via a series of side events.

These include the TradeTech Global Forum, which will promote the use of technology in global supply chains, and sessions on trade facilitation in partnership with Etihad Credit Insurance, trade finance with HSBC, SMEs with the ADDED, the WLP Logistics Challenges with DP World, Future of Cargo in collaboration with Emirates, and Sustainable Trade Africa.


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