WTO cancels pivotal trade meeting due to new coronavirus variant

News StaffNovember 29, 2021Agriculture News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and other organizations have been lobbying heavily ahead of the World Trade Organization (WTO) first ministerial meeting in four years.

AFBF joined eight other organizations in reaching out to United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai in advance of the upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), which would focus on the future work of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to call for needed reforms.

Instead, the pivotal meeting has become the first major diplomatic casualty of the new coronavirus variant when the WTO postponed the conference on Friday, due to the deteriorating health situation.

Ministers from WTO members were due to have gathered next week for a meeting widely seen as a test of the WTO’s relevance.

Earlier in a letter to Ambassador Tai, AFBF wrote, “The U.S. and global economy, and the livelihoods of workers around the world, depend on an effective WTO. A level multilateral playing field helps American manufacturers, services suppliers, innovators and farmers – large and small – by enabling workers and communities to compete more fairly in markets around the globe.”

AFBF supports advancing a comprehensive WTO reform agenda that tackles dispute settlement, special and differential treatment, distortive subsidies and state-owned enterprises. It also calls for reforms should also cover improved subsidy notifications, enhance transparency, and help harness trade to improve sustainability.

“The Administration can best support the international rules-based system and the WTO by making concrete proposals and partnering with allies who share market-based trade liberalization, modernization, and reform principles. Moreover, scheduling more frequent Trade Ministers meetings could help overcome impasses, support reforms and foster progress.”

Before President Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping recently, the AFBF, along with 25 other organizations, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Ambassador Tai laying out priorities for improving trade between the countries.

No new date has been set for a rescheduled WTO Ministerial Conference.