CONTEXT For the first time in its 25-year history, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be led by a woman, as both the contending candidates for the Director-General (D-G) post are women, from Nigeria and South Korea respectively.
CHALLENGES FOR THE NEXT D-G OF WTO
- Balancing the diverse and varied interests of the 164 member countries.
- Reconciling role among the competing multilateral and national visions, for the organisation to work efficiently.
- Taking measures to revive falling global economy amidst global slowdown due to COVID-19 pandemic
- Working towards bringing reforms in the multilateral trading system to maintain the credibility of the institution.
- Bridge the divide between developed and developing nations. The core of the divide within the WTO is the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) that is favourable for developing nations. The developed countries are working to jettison DDA in favour of a new agenda that includes, amongst others, e-commerce, investment facilitation, MSMEs and gender.
- Restoring the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, especially the revival of its Appellate body, which is also crucial for the organisation’s efficient functioning.
- Securing international cooperation and collaboration in the Post COVID world, as no country can fight the pandemic alone.
- Mitigating the effects of the pandemic by giving clear directions on ensuring that supply chains remain free and open, recommending a standard harmonised system with classification for vaccines, and by the removal of import/export restrictions.
- Working towards removal of barriers to intellectual property and securing a legal framework within the WTO TRIPS Agreement for Vaccine distribution.
Most imminently, the next D-G will need to build trust among its members that the WTO needs greater engagement by all countries, to stitch fair rules in the larger interest of all nations and thwart unfair trade practices of a few.