Business & Economy

WTO seeks reform to face challenges posed by climate change

Astana, Jun 9 (EFE).- The World Trade Organization (WTO) is considering implementing reforms to tackle the imbalances caused in international trade by climate change and to resolve trade disputes, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the organization’s director-general, said on Friday.

“We see that climate change can alter trade patterns. (…) Areas that used to be granaries in the past are no longer so due to droughts and floods, a comparative advantage assumed by other zones,” she observed during her speech at the Astana International Forum in Kazakhstan.

Consequently, the World Trade Organization must have appropriate mechanisms to resolve disputes between countries affected by this situation. However, it “faces issues with its dispute resolution mechanisms”, which makes reforming the system necessary.

The proposed reform would allow the committees dedicated to these issues to be “more efficient, more capable of delivering quick results to people.”

“There was an agreement at the twelfth ministerial meeting (of the WTO) that we should seriously start this reform process and I’m pleased to tell you that this work has begun in earnest and we are looking at how to strengthen all our functions,” she noted.

She pointed out that the current WTO dispute resolution mechanism has two levels for dispute resolution, one of which needs changes.

“The second level had been paralyzed because we could not select enough judges for it to function. WTO members agreed that they will now intensify and reform this system,” she added.

She emphasized that solving this issue “is of vital importance,” as without a well-functioning dispute resolution system there’s no chance to stop those who contravene the organization’s rules.

“This should be the only place in the world where, if you are a small country, it doesn’t matter if you have a population of a million or 2,000 people, because you are a WTO member just like bigger countries, with 100 million inhabitants,” she affirmed.

The WTO director-general indicated that she hopes to complete this reform for the organization’s thirteenth ministerial meeting, scheduled for late February 2024.

“We are moving. It’s not easy. It involves a lot of hard work, but we are getting there,” she assured. EFE


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