Minister Maru Heads Delegation to WTO 13th Ministerial Conference

Monday 26 February 2024

Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon Richard Maru, leads a Papua New Guinea delegation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) which is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Minister Maru and his delegation   arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday 25 February  to attend and participate in the World Trade Organization (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference.

 The MC13 will be attended by Ministers responsible for trade from the 164 member states of the WTO from February 26- 29, 2024.

“The Ministerial Conferences are the highest decision-making body in the WTO. At MC13 the Trade Ministers will be expected to decide on commitments in the areas of fisheries subsidies, agriculture including food security, trade and development, the moratorium on non-violation complaints relating to intellectual property rights, work program on e-commerce, WTO reform, extension of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs) waver decision, and the last area pertains to institutional issues and proposals for improving the WTO’s regular work in areas such as transparency, committee operations, small economies, and dispute settlement,” said Minister Maru.

“The negotiation on fisheries subsidies is of particular interest as PNG intends to develop the sector to fully realize its full potential and will require multilateral discipline that safeguards our interests in this regard is imperative,” said Minister Maru.

In the areas of agriculture, development, and e-commerce, Minister Maru said: “As a net importing country, PNG views the discussions on agriculture as very important for food security and policy space and welcomes the new Chair’s Text as the basis for work going forward.

“While this has been acknowledged as a priority for a majority of WTO members, minimal progress has been made in over 20 years of negotiations to mitigate the pre-existing distortions in the global agricultural market.

Mr Maru said, these distortions persistently undermine the food security of numerous developing country members including PNG, stating, Members must engage constructively in the negotiations to address longstanding divergences and work towards substantive outcomes in agriculture.

 “Such outcomes are imperative to safeguard the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and ensure access to essential foodstuffs for net food-importing developing country members.”

 Regarding development, this agenda is important for developing countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and we are concerned at the lack of progress.

 Developing countries and LDCs need precise, effective, and operational Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) in order to better integrate into the multilateral trading system as emphasized in paragraph 44 of the MC4 / Doha Ministerial Declaration and reaffirmed in the MC12 Outcome Document. Members must engage in good faith and progress the G-90 proposals beyond MC13.

 On e-commerce, PNG supports deepened discussions regarding the e-commerce work programme particularly working towards the development challenges and digital divide faced by many developing countries and LDCs.

 PNG further supports the extension of the Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmission until MC14 to give time to address the implications of applying them especially for developing members.”

Minister Maru added: “Furthermore, PNG supports the ongoing work on the WTO Reform to make it more relevant, fair and equitable to the needs of its members in view of the many challenges that we face such as climate change as well as build the capacities of the developing members to integrate into the multilateral trading system.”

Apart from attending and participating in the WTO MC13 in the next few days, Minister Maru will also be having important bilateral meetings on the margins of the conference.

“The outcomes of MC13 will have impact on our national policies as it will set the minimum standard for any other future trade negotiations that PNG enters into. It is therefore important that PNG is well represented at the MC13,” said Minister Maru.

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