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UAE to Host the 13th WTO Ministerial Meeting in 2024

The next World Trade Organization ministerial conference will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in February 2024, the global trade watchdog confirmed in a statement. The UAE and Cameroon were both vying to host the event and came to an informal agreement for Abu Dhabi to host the first one and Cameroon to do the next, trade sources said.

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UAE’s Big Win:

For the UAE, hosting the meeting is part of its own push to position itself as a global hub for business amid growing competition in the Middle East. It has been rolling out bilateral trade deals with fast-growing markets since the pandemic. Next year the Gulf Arab state will host COP28, the UN’s Climate Change conference.

Key Priorities Of MC13:

  • The top priority for the WTO’s 13th ministerial conference, known as MC13, will be reaching an agreement to reform the trade body’s hobbled dispute settlement system and modernising its 27-year-old rulebook.
  • Most nations want to restore the WTO’s appellate body — a sort of supreme court for trade — which the US crippled in 2019, citing systemic problems with the way its members settle trade disputes.
  • MC13 will also provide a forum for WTO members to complete the unfinished work of their 2022 ministerial conference, which produced an agreement to water down patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines and a deal to curb harmful fishery subsidies.

About World Trade Organization(WTO):

  • About:
    • Founded in 1995. The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established in the wake of the Second World War. The WTO is run by its 164 members.
    • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
    • WTO is the only international organization that deals with the rules of trade between countries.
  • Aim:
    • Its aim is to promote free trade, which is done through trade agreements that are discussed and signed by the member states.
    • The WTO also provides a forum for countries to negotiate trade rules and settle economic disputes between them.
  • WTO’s Ministerial Conference:
    • The Ministerial Conference is the WTO’s top decision-making body
    • It usually meets every two years.
    • All members of the WTO are involved in the Ministerial Conference and they can take decisions on all matters covered under any multilateral trade agreements.
  • Decision-making of WTO:
    • Unlike other organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund or World Bank, WTO does not delegate power to a board of directors or an organisational chief.
    • All decisions at the WTO are made collectively and through consensus among member countries at varied councils and committees and any member can exercise a veto.
  • WTO and India:
    • India has visibly benefitted from the open market reforms that it embraced in the early 1990s. Through WTO India can ensure a rule-based global trade regime.
    • The dispute settlement body of the WTO is important for India as India has appealed to it seeking exemptions from the import duties on steel and aluminium imposed by the US.

The WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) took place from 12 to 17 June 2022 at WTO headquarters in Geneva.

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