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After nearly a decade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) inks a historic agreement.

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After nearly a decade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) inks a historic agreement.

The set of trade treaties includes obligations on food security, balanced outcome fisheries subsidies, and pandemic response, all of which are key challenges for poor nations.

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In the early hours of Friday in Geneva, the 164 member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) finally completed a package of agreements, with India leading the way. The deliberations dragged on for days, with round-the-clock

ck meetings.

The set of trade treaties includes obligations on food security, balanced outcome fisheries subsidies, and pandemic response, all of which are critical challenges for emerging nations.

A significant judgment on a patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines is also due shortly, but the US has yet to seal it formally.

On Thursday night, the package escaped last-minute hitches that threatened to undermine an agreement on fisheries and a TRIPS waiver.

Several trade-offs between rich and developing nations were made during the two nights of marathon negotiations that lasted into the Thursday afternoon deadline, putting commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal’s negotiating talents to the test.

“All of the agreements were unanimously approved and signed. A decision on the temporary patent waiver (TRIPS) is likely soon. We’re only waiting for it to be approved in the United States, “According to a Geneva-based government source.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to insiders, actively monitored deliberations at the Geneva ministerial.

With problematic phrases deleted from the document last minute, India maintained its right to offer subsidies to its fishers. In exchange, India agreed to an 18-month extension of the customs tariff moratorium on electronic imports, which it claims benefits the Indian economy.

These concerns are expected to be addressed in a formal statement at some point in the future.

According to one of the sources, the proposed accord addresses overfishing, deep-sea fishing, and illicit, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing for the first time.

“Sovereign views on EEZ (exclusive economic zones) have been established in India’s case. They added that fishermen, farmers, food security, multilateralism, and trade and industry, notably the digital economy and MSMEs, have all benefited from these “historic choices” made at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference.

Last-minute roadblocks and protests from a handful of nations nearly derailed the patent waiver and fisheries agreement. While the United Kingdom put the patent waiver arrangement on hold for five hours while waiting for clearance from its capital, the United States and China required a few more hours to overcome the pact’s eligibility issue. The fisheries agreement was on the verge of passing when the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) governments wanted a tougher deal, requesting the reinstatement of elements of the accord that enforced limits on subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity.

India’s main demand for a long-term settlement on public food grain stockpiles will now be addressed only at the next ministerial conference.

For the next five years, the patent waiver for covid-19 vaccines would allow India and other qualifying developing countries to manufacture and sell vaccines without a compulsory license, a significant benefit for pandemic-stricken countries.

While it will save lives in some of the world’s poorest countries, it may also assist Indian corporations in expanding their manufacturing operations in other countries.

As discussions broke down on Wednesday, India assumed the role of mediator. It reached out to various nations, including the United States and South Africa, to hammer out deliverables, according to individuals familiar with the situation. Just when the negotiations appeared to be stalled, Goyal launched a series of bilateral and small group meetings to attempt to bring all countries on the side.

The two problematic paragraphs that sought a seven-year moratorium on overfishing subsidies have been stricken off, according to the updated draught fisheries language examined by Mint. India wanted a 25-year transition time to phase off such aid instead of the usual seven years. The discussions had occurred against many Indian fishermen protesting in Geneva.

The existing agreement solely covers removing damaging incentives to prevent illicit, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

This time, though, India has only granted a one-and-a-half-year extension. “Should the ministerial conference 13 be postponed beyond March 31, 2024, the moratorium would cease on that date unless ministers or the general council decide to prolong,” the final language examined by Mint stated.

“It has brought multilateralism back to the table.” India assumed a significant leadership role and served as the voice of the developing world and LDCs (least developed countries). During the several sessions and discussions, the developing nations were creating consensus and giving ideas to break every stalemate,” they stated.

In the last leg, India stated unequivocally that it would agree to prolong the customs tax moratorium on digital imports provided the “total package of MC12” favored India and poor countries.

The present customs duty moratorium on digital imports will be extended until December 31, 2023, according to the deal. Since 1998, the embargo on applying duties on digital or electronic imports or transmissions has been renewed every two years, barring countries from charging any taxes.

All topics are decided in a spirit of cooperation between developed and developing member nations.

“While agreeing on the concerns, there was a great team effort. Concerns raised by the ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific) nations on the fisheries decision were adequately addressed, “a source said

In agriculture, India has agreed to lift export limits on UN World Food Programme buying on the proviso that it retains the right to impose restrictions if a local food security need arises. India’s other demand for enabling government-to-government exports from its public stockholdings to nations in need would be considered at the next ministerial meeting, along with other agricultural matters.

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