WTO cancels meeting after travel ban obstructs delegates

After Switzerland tightened travel restrictions to control the new epidemic, the World Trade Organization postponed its biennial ministerial meeting. Omicron variants Coronavirus.

The diplomat told the Financial Times that the decision was made at an emergency meeting of ambassadors in Geneva on Friday.

The meeting was originally scheduled to start on Monday, but Switzerland No travel People from Southern Africa said that people from Belgium and Israel have found cases and must be isolated for 10 days. This precludes the travel of most EU delegations.

According to internal communications seen by the British “Financial Times”, the decision was made “in view of deteriorating health conditions and travel restrictions.”

WTO Deputy Director-General Anabel González subsequently wrote on Twitter: “All members support the decision of the General Council Chairman @CastilloDacio and DG @NOIweala. Health, fairness and inclusiveness reflect this call. This is the right decision. The work will and must continue.”

One of the main goals of the meeting is to improve Vaccine availability In developing countries.

India, South Africa and several other countries want to give up intellectual property protection, including patents, copyrights and trade secrets for all medical products used to treat Covid-19.

But developed countries, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, oppose such drastic moves. The EU tried to reach a compromise by proposing to relax the compulsory license rules.

This would allow the government to instruct generic drug manufacturers to produce drugs domestically, with little compensation to the pharmaceutical companies that invented them.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said on Thursday that IP The negotiations are “stalemate.”

However, the ministers had hoped to reach an agreement to protect fish stocks by ending subsidies for deep-sea fishing. India and some EU countries are still resisting, but WTO officials believe that after 20 years of negotiations, an agreement may be finalized.

The news was a blow to the organization with 164 members.It cannot perform one of its main functions, namely, adjudicating trade disputes, because U.S. refused Nominate members of the panel to join its appeal body. Ministers are expected to start a debate on WTO reforms.

The meeting was originally scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan in June.

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