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Bernd Lange on WTO outcome: There's life in the old dog yet


20 Jun 2022


Global Europe
Health & Consumers

Reacting to the outcome of the 12th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation, in which he participated, Bernd Lange, S&D MEP responsible for the WTO and Chair of the European Parliament’s trade committee said:

“Multilateralism is not dead, but instead very much alive. While the WTO was already in dire straits for some time, the covid-19 crisis and Russia’s aggression have only complicated matters. Recent years have seen many actions that are power-based instead of rules-based. Furthermore, we have seen a return to protectionism by many actors. In this context, many have seen the possibilities for agreements in the area of fair and sustainable trade as not feasible. A fragmentation of the multilateral trading system and block-building were looming dangers. This WTO meeting has shown exactly the opposite: the rules-based system is very much alive. Compromises between 164 countries have been reached in very important areas, among others in reforming the WTO. This lays the foundation for the further development of rules-based, fair and sustainable trade. “

Note for the editor:

The negotiations on fisheries started in 2001 and finally we have been able to integrate the UN's Sustainable Development Goals into the trade regime in a binding way for the first time. The trade-related responses to the pandemic and the food crisis show that the multilateral trading regime can come together to provide necessary answers to pressing current problems. We also managed to agree to extend the e-commerce moratorium which means that no custom duties will be imposed on electronic transmission. And last but not least, the mandate to reform the WTO is important. There is no question that reforms are needed in the dispute settlement mechanism, in the rules and also in the working methods. And the 164 members have now also agreed to this. Compromises were necessary at the MC 12 and will continue to be necessary in order to be able to peacefully shape the reality of people's lives. And that is exactly what it is all about: using economic opportunities to improve living conditions for all. 

Among the key achievements are:

  • WTO reform mandate
  • Declaration on Response to pandemic & a decision on a COVID-19 TRIPS waiver
  • Declaration on Food security & an agreement on World Food Programme (WFP) Food Purchases Exemptions from Export Prohibitions or Restriction
  • Decision on extension of e-Commerce moratorium and a work plan on e-commerce rules
  • Fisheries subsidies Agreement 


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