13th Ministerial Conference

WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference, MC13, is scheduled to take place 26-29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Food security, fisherfolk livelihoods, taxing big tech, and multilateralism itself hang in the balance at WTO ministerial. (OWINFS briefing, 20 Feb 2024)

We have a collection of various civil society documents on MC13.

For some highlights, read on.

Digital trade

Before digital trade was a significant aspect of global trade, members of the WTO agreed to a “moratorium” on customs duties on electronic transmissions. It’s high time for this tax holiday for Big Tech to come to an end. Countries should have the right to decide if taxing Amazon e-books, Netflix movies, Apple music, Microsoft software, or video games is in their national interest, as these foreign operators compete tariff-free against domestic small and medium business competitors. WTO members should allow the moratorium to lapse, rather than be renewed, at MC13.

Fact Sheet: WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions. (Feb 2024)

Some countries are pushing for anti-development, anti-public interest and pro-Big Tech rules in the WTO under the guise of “e‑commerce.”

WTO electronic commerce draft Chair’s text. (Jan 2024)

50+ Consumer and Digital Rights Groups Urge Countries to Abandon WTO E-Commerce JSI Terms on Data Flows and Source Code. (Jan 2024)

Understanding the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce. (updated Dec 2023)

more on digital economy …

Regulation of AI

Digital trade rules and AI regulation – a primer. (Feb 2024)

Food & agriculture

Countries should have the right to support the production of food that is consumed domestically. WTO members agreed to find a permanent solution to the public stockholding programs by December 2017. At MC13, WTO members should deliver a positive resolution on the public stockholding issue that allows all developing countries to implement food security programs without onerous restrictions that are not demanded of developed countries’ trade distorting subsidies.

Safeguard food security, food sovereignty and ensure peasants rights at the WTO MC13. (Feb 2024)

Negotiations on agriculture & food security towards MC13. (Jan 2024)

more on food & agriculture …

Fisheries

Civil society open letter to ministers on WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations. (Feb 2024)

Fishing subsidies negotiations towards MC13: Some key issues. (Feb 2024)

more on fisheries …

Access to Medicines

It is outrageous that some rich countries blocked the approval of a waiver of TRIPS patent monopolies that restricted developing countries’ access to vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and to today.

Reigniting the Spirit of the Doha Declaration: Why a TRIPS Waiver Extension is Key to the Legitimacy of the World Trade Organization. (Feb 2024)

The WTO will conclude negotiations over TRIPS and COVID 19 without extending the June 17, 2022 decision to therapeutics or diagnostics. (30 Jan 2024)

more on “intellectual property” / TRIPS …

Stop WTO Expansion!

Pro-corporate governments at the WTO are attempting to pursue a failed agenda of WTO expansion. Developed countries are attempting to undermine the core fundamentals of the WTO's mandate as a multilateral institution and alter decision-making procedures by using “Joint Statement Initiatives (JSIs)” launched at the Buenos Aires Ministerial and henceforward.

Trade & Environment

MC13 will feature discussions on “trade and the environment,” in which the largest polluters will use sustainability rhetoric to try to gain market access in developing countries and leave multilateral principles behind, while blocking progress on developing countries’ solutions for climate adaption focused on green technology transfer rights.

Risks in trade as a solution for environmental problems. (Nov 2023)

An Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) is being negotiated in secret. (Sep 2023)

more on trade & environment …

Investment

Making sense of Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement: Part I (Nov 2023), Part II (Feb 2024).

more on investment …

ITUC / Global Unions on MC13

Global unions statement to the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13): English, Spanish, French. (Feb 2024)