Negotiators have been tasked with striking an agreement that could help eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and prohibit some fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.
Member states of the WTO, which works to craft accords that can ensure smooth international trade, have struggled to reach an agreement on fisheries after roughly two decades of work. Okonjo-Iweala called for finalizing the negotiations as soon as possible, and credited Colombian ambassador Santiago Wills, who chairs the talks on fisheries subsidies, for his really hard" work.
My presence is to try and support him proactively to try and unblock the situation so he can complete the fantastic work he has been doing, she said alongside Wills as they met with various advocacy groups outside the WTO gates. It has been 20 years and 20 years is enough.
Things are not easy when members are negotiating and there are still a lot of critical issues that need to be sorted out, she said. "But we are hopeful.
Wills said it was music to my ears to see on the first day the (director general) comes here and makes a statement on the fisheries negotiations.
Okonjo-Iweala's first day also consisted of meeting staffers and attending her first meeting of the General Council, made up of top envoys from the trade body's 164 member states. The closed-door council meeting was largely held by videoconference because of measures aimed to fight the pandemic.
Okonjo-Iweala's victory in the race last fall was delayed largely because the U.S. administration under Donald Trump supported another candidate. Her appointment came through last month when the Biden administration cleared the way for her selection at the trade body, whose rules require consensus.
The WTO is facing headwinds such as rising protectionism. Its dispute settlement system has been blocked because the U.S. has almost singlehandedly prevented appointments to its Appellate Body a rough equivalent to an appeals court.
Okonjo-Iweala said last month that wide-ranging reforms are needed, vowing that a first priority would be to address the economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic such as by working to lift export restrictions on supplies and vaccines to get them distributed to countries in need.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.