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Senior trade officials recently concluded a two-day meeting at the World Trade Organization, with promising signs that negotiators in Geneva will have the political support to achieve outcomes at the upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi from 26 to 29 February 2024.
Antigua and Barbuda was represented at the meeting, and according to Director of International Trade and WTO Delegate Joy-Marie King, the aim was to assess progress on international trade issues on the negotiating agenda.
These issues included agriculture and food security, dispute settlement reform, the e-commerce work program and moratorium, phase two of the fisheries subsidies’ negotiations, and development issues, in addition to deliberating on pressing international issues.
Senior officials had the opportunity to engage with each other through various configurations, including plenary meetings of the full membership, breakout sessions on specific issues, bilateral talks, group coordination meetings, and consultations with the chairs or facilitators of negotiations.
In her submission to the WTO membership, King highlighted several priority areas for the OECS and Antigua and Barbuda, including the urgent and complete restoration of the institution’s binding dispute settlement system, which is the cornerstone to maintaining a rules-based global trading system.
Further, the dispute settlement system is an indispensable mechanism to help the most minor, poorest and most vulnerable members better navigate the uneven power dynamics of global trade.
The engagement concluded with a session on the way forward, including a concluding summary from the General Council Chair and the Director-General.