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Revisit rulebook on food and agriculture, DG Okonjo-Iweala urges workshop participants

GENEVA, Switzerland – World Trade Organization, (WTO) director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on 2 July urged members to revisit the organization’s rulebook on food and agriculture. The director-general’s remarks at a two-day workshop for members and external experts -dedicated to examining contemporary challenges in the agriculture sector in the context of WTO negotiations.

“There is an urgent need to ensure that trade in food and agriculture contributes to ensuring everyone can access sufficient, safe, and nutritious food at all times,” the director-general said to participants.

While the agreement on agriculture has underpinned five-fold growth in agricultural trade since the start of the century, the challenges facing the sector have evolved significantly, the director-general said. Agricultural markets remain highly distorted, while UN figures indicate that around 9 percent of the world’s population faced hunger in 2022 – with climate change among the factors that are exacerbating existing challenges.

Policymakers need to rethink how existing policy frameworks affect the sustainable management of land and water resources, the director-general said.

Sessions during the workshop explored challenges related to sustainability, food security and reducing poverty as well as possible new avenues that members could consider in the ongoing negotiations on agricultural trade rules at the WTO. Experts from academic institutions and international agencies were among those who addressed the event, which was attended by ambassadors and trade officials from WTO members.

Director-General Okonjo-Iweala called on trade officials to find the political will to make the trade-offs needed to achieve progress in the talks.

“We should use every single means to try and get a breakthrough,” the director-general told the meeting. “And that is why I think this workshop is very important.”

The workshop agenda and other details are online here. More on the WTO agriculture negotiations: WTO | Agriculture — negotiations.



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