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12th WTO MC | Geneva Package | Important UPSC law Optional current Affairs


12TH WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE & GENEVA PACKAGE |


IMPORTANCE : This agreement or “Geneva Package” is considered to be “historic” as last trade deal can only be traced to Nairobi Ministerial Conference in 2015. And further, this agreement was on verge of collapsing was saved by intense deliberation took place on the last day. This 12th WTO’s MC took place from 12 to 17 June 2022 at WTO headquarters in Geneva.


MAJOR AREAS OF GENEVA PACKAGE :

1. A TEMPORARY TRIPS WAIVER on vaccines to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic : For five years, the waiver would allow all countries the flexibility to issue authorisations for the manufacture of patented COVID vaccines without the right holder’s consent without need of compulsory licensing mechanism.

2. A decision on disciplining FISHERIES SUBSIDIES : WTO members, both developed and developing, will not have to bring down subsides given to fishers fishing within 200 nautical miles of the shore. But subsidies contributing to (1) illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing & (2) over-fishing in Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) are now curbed.

3. A consensus on EXEMPTING WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME PURCHASES from export restrictions; and

4. An extension of moratorium on CUSTOMS DUTIES ON E-TRANSMISSION until MC13 — scheduled to take place in December 2023. Broadly, ETs consist of online deliveries such as music, e-books, films, software and video games. They differ from other cross-border e-commerce since they are ordered online but not delivered physically.


INDIA’S GAIN FROM THIS PACKAGE: Very little gain.

1. Since permanent solution for public stock-holding is still far-away.

2. Fishers operating up to EEZ were protected though.

3. Temporary waiver on vaccines is of less significance since India already has compulsory licence regime in place.

4. Moratorium extension is a big-blow for India. India, citing data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (which calculates the amount of printed matter, music and video downloads, software and video games), submitted that extending duty-free market access due to the moratorium resulted in a loss of $10 billion per annum globally — 95% of which was borne by developing countries.


BACKGROUND : The MC at WTO meets once every two years and can take decisions on all matters under any multilateral trade agreement. All decisions at the WTO are made collectively and through consensus among member countries at varied councils and committees unlike IMF or WB where such power is delegated to a board of directors or an organisational chief.


This current development is important considering the there was question in UPSC 2021 & forms part of your syllabus : under International law | Topic 14. New international economic order and monetary law: WTO, TRIPS, GATT, IMF, World Bank.




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