Last reviewed 21 June 2022

Having concluded its 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has confirmed that it has secured multilaterally negotiated outcomes on a series of key trade initiatives.

The “Geneva Package” contains a series of decisions on: fisheries subsidies; the WTO response to emergencies, including a waiver of certain requirements concerning compulsory licensing for Covid-19 vaccines; food safety and agriculture; and WTO reform.

Full details of the conference outcome can be found here.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is now calling for the agreements reached to be translated into real change for businesses.

Head of Trade Policy, William Bain, said: “The most important decision for many firms will be the eleventh-hour renewal, for 18 months at least, of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission of products. This is a key boost for exporters.”

Key issues such as food security and vaccines saw sufficient progress to avert forthcoming crises, he went on, but on these, together with subsidies, digital trade, and WTO reform, further steps are badly needed.

The renewal of the moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission of products will be in place until the next Ministerial Conference, if held at the end of 2023, or until the end of March 2024 if the Conference is delayed.

The WTO has also agreed to waivers from the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement to secure continuity of vaccine supplies in the Covid-19 pandemic and to have a fully functioning dispute resolution system in place by 2024.