The World Trade Organization opened its highest-level meeting in four and half years on Sunday, with DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala predicting a “bumpy and rocky” road ahead.
What’s with the prediction?
The Director-General expressed hope that the meeting will result in progress toward reducing inequality and ensuring fair and free trade, especially at a time when some question the WTO’s relevance. While the DG acknowledged the trade body’s need for reforms, she expressed optimism that the meeting, involving more than 120 ministers from the group’s 164 member countries, could achieve at least one of its major goals.
What are these goals?
Pandemic preparedness, food insecurity, and overfishing in the world’s seas are among the topics on the table. “The road will be bumpy and rocky. There may be a few landmines on the way,” Okonjo-Iweala said, adding that “we’ll have to navigate those landmines and see how we can successfully land one or two deliverables”.
The meeting will explore whether food export restrictions should be lifted or eased to assist countries suffering from a shortage of wheat, fertilizer, and other supplies as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. They will also determine whether to raise funding for the United Nations’ World Food Program, which assists poor countries around the world.