SYLLABUS SECTION: GS III (ECONOMY)
WHY IN THE NEWS?
Recently, the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO has been held, where member countries agreed to a series of deals relating to the temporary waivers on Covid-19 vaccines, a moratorium on e-commerce trade, food security, and setting limits on harmful fishing subsidies.
- Together they constitute what WTO’s Director ¬General Ngozi Okonjo¬Iweala referred to as the Geneva Package.
- MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
- The MC is at the very top of WTO’s organizational decision-making body and usually meets every two years.
- All decisions at the WTO are made collectively and through consensus among member countries at varies councils and committees.
- This year’s conference took place in Geneva, Switzerland.
Curtailing harmful fishing subsidies
- A multilateral agreement was pass to curb ‘harmful’ subsidies on illegal, unreport, and unregulate fishing for the next four years, to better protect global fish stocks.
Global Food Security
- Members agree to a binding decision to exempt food purchased by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) for humanitarian purposes, from any export restrictions.
- However, countries would be allow to restrict food supplies to ensure domestic food security needs.
Covid-19 vaccine production
- Members agree to temporarily waive intellectual property patents on Covid-19 vaccines without the consent of the patent holder for 5 years so that they can more easily manufacture them domestically
- The waiver did not cover all medical tools like diagnostics and treatments.
- All members agreed to continue the long-standing moratorium on customs duties on e-commerce transmissions until the subsequent Ministerial Conference
Current moratoriums on electronic transmissions have been extend
- India and South Africa, citing data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development submitted that extending duty-free market access due to the moratorium resulted in a loss of $10 billion per annum globally — 95% of which was borne by developing countries.
- Member countries agreed to extend the current moratorium on not imposing customs duties on electronic transmission (ET) until MC13
- ETs consist of online deliveries such as music, e-books, films, software, and video games. They differ from other cross-border e-commerce since they are ordered online but not deliver physically.
- Proponents had put forth that the moratorium would help maintain certainty and predictability for businesses and consumers, particularly in the context of the pandemic.
INDIA AND 12TH MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
- They saw some successes at the MC12 with respect to the above-mentioned sectors.
- India with some other developing countries lobbied to remove a section of the proposal that would threaten some subsidies which would assist small-scale artisanal fishing
Read more: UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS
SOURCE: THE HINDU