WTO Ministerial Delivers Mixed Results on Business Priorities; Further Action Needed

US Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant issued the following statement as the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva:

“The US business community depends on the WTO and the global rules-based trading system. American workers, farmers, and companies benefit from its rules every day. However, the outcomes of the WTO’s meetings this week are a mixed bag for the business community.

  • “The TRIPS waiver is a solution in search of a problem: Intellectual property rights helped deliver Covid-19 vaccines in record time, and today the world is awash in vaccine doses. We cannot let this unfortunate measure set a precedent for undermining IP rights [more].

  • “In a welcome move, the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions was extended. Hopefully WTO members can see the last thing the world economy needs now is more tariffs – in this case on digital transmissions of goods, services, and data across borders.

  • “Two decades of negotiations for an agreement to curb harmful fisheries subsidies yielded a partial deal after resistance from a small number of countries. This is a rare case where trade rules could make a huge contribution to addressing a major environmental problem, namely, overfishing. WTO members must continue their work here.

  • “With the world facing serious food security problems, WTO members reaffirmed their commitment to forgo export restrictions, in this case on agricultural sales to the World Food Program. It’s clear export export restrictions are contributing to the gathering food crisis.

“The international business community cannot give up on the WTO, but we are being forced to find ways to circumnavigate the roadblocks thrown up by a recalcitrant few – or new initiatives that will support intellectual property, digital trade, and strong trade rules. Reform is needed; action is needed. The world’s prosperity is on the line. ”

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