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WTO ‘working’ to revise global trade growth forecast for 2024 – News


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Published: Monday February 26, 2024, 18:57

Last update: Monday, February 26, 2024, 11:23 p.m.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is working to lower its trade growth forecast amid rising geopolitical tensions, uncertainties and instability, a senior official in Abu Dhabi said.

“We have a lot of uncertainty. We forecast trade volume growth of 0.8 percent for 2023, which we believe will be weaker than that. We are still reviewing our forecast. I think we will be below the 3.3 percent growth we forecast for this year,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said during a press conference at the 2024 13th WTO Ministerial Conference.

Okonjo-Iweala noted that apart from the United States and India, other countries were facing a slowdown in demand affecting business activities.

“We have economic headwinds. The IMF and the World Bank have revised their global growth forecasts slightly downwards. Once aggregate demand is low, in general almost all countries, except the United States and India, which are doing quite well, but all other countries, have flat aggregate demand. And that also influences trade.”

However, he highlighted the resilience of global trade in goods, which is at record levels.

“The multilateral trading system generates 75 percent of world trade. “The system has shown great resilience and is delivering results despite the challenges in the global environment.”

Okonjo-Iweala emphasized global cooperation and not fragmentation of trade.

“International cooperation matters. “It is important to come together to strengthen the multilateral trading system.”

Two new members

Among the highlights of the day was the formal accession of Comoros and Timor-Leste to the WTO, bringing the number of member states to 166.

“We have not had any accession in eight years. “This has generated a lot of enthusiasm.”

Okonjo-Iweala said countries are interested in joining the WTO because they find value in the multilateral trading system. “We have 22 more [countries] in the queue. Joining the WTO is not an easy task. East Timor is one of the fastest countries, taking seven years to do it. For Comoros, it was 17 years.”

Okonjo-Iweala revealed that up to 8 countries in the Arab world are seeking membership in the WTO.

“There are between 7 and 9 countries in the process. Some of them started negotiations some time ago, and due to internal issues, sometimes conflict-related or related to the economy, there have been lapses. “We have several countries, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, to name a few, that are trying.”

Okonjo-Iweala noted that there are several “important outcomes” on the table that the WTO is striving to achieve in the coming days in Abu Dhabi.

Fishing subsidies

Meanwhile, eight members deposited their instruments of acceptance of the ‘Fisheries Subsidies Agreement’, putting the historic ocean sustainability agreement on track to come into force at a record pace. Ministers from Brunei Darussalam, Chad, Malaysia, Norway, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Togo and Turkey presented their instruments of acceptance to Okonjo-Iweala.

This brings the total number of WTO members that have formally accepted the Agreement to 69, with a total of 70 expected during this Ministerial Conference.

“With the 70 we will have this week, we will now be 40 members short, so the countdown to coming into force can now begin in earnest,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “I hope the remaining members can work quickly to help us enable entry into force before my birthday on June 13 this year, which will also be two years since MC12. “When we succeed, it will be the fastest entry into force of any WTO agreement, and I know we will.”


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