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Minister Maneesh Gobin Calls for a More Inclusive Global Trade System at the WTO MC13

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Honourable Maneesh Gobin, is participating in the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi. On Monday 26 February 2023, he delivered a statement at the Ministerial Conversation on Trade and Sustainable Development, including Trade and Industrial and Policy Space for Industrial Development, and another one at the Ministerial Conversation on Trade and Inclusion.

Addressing the Conversation on Trade and Sustainable Development, Minister Maneesh Gobin cautioned against potential dangers of misuse of industrial policy and environment sustainability agendas by developed countries to increase trade protectionism in the wake of recent disruptions, geopolitical tensions and pressing challenge of climate change. 

Such behaviour, if unchecked, could widen the existing gap in trade relations between developed and developing nations, hindering the latter’s industrial capabilities and economic diversification efforts, he warned. 

The Minister underlined the importance of tailored solutions within WTO negotiations to accommodate the industrialisation aspirations of developing nations. This approach, focused on facilitating technology transfer, reinforcing exports, and providing funding support for industrial development, aims to bridge the gap in industrial capabilities and promote inclusive economic growth.

It is therefore vital to rebalance trade rules within WTO agreements, particularly the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement and the Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) Agreement. It is important for the WTO to review current trade rules and create new ones to support the industrialisation efforts of developing nations and promote a more equitable and inclusive global trading system.

These adjustments will help Small Island Developing States (SIDS), like Mauritius, pursue industrial development strategies which are adapted to their specific needs and economic ambitions.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade stressed the need for a balanced approach that promotes international trade while protecting the environment without unfairly penalising developing countries and the SIDS. This necessitates the establishment of mechanisms within the WTO framework to eliminate barriers to trade in environmental goods and services, promote sustainable technologies, and assess the implications of unilateral environmental measures.

Minister Maneesh Gobin called for sustained efforts to meet the climate financing pledges made in the Paris Accord, highlighting the importance of technical assistance and capacity-building programs to support developing countries in integrating trade and environmental policies towards sustainable development.

Talking at the Ministerial Conversation on trade and Inclusion, Minister Maneesh Gobin, reiterated the necessity for more inclusiveness in the multilateral trading system. “It is imperative that the WTO prioritises inclusive policies ensuing that trade benefits not only those with productive capacity, resources, technology and finance, but uplifts the less privileged, fostering global economic justice and equality”, he said.

Inclusiveness requires alleviating capacity and competitiveness constraints for developing countries, enabling them to fully participate in the trade opportunities by the WTO, Minister Maneesh Gobin observed. He also said that inclusive trade practices also dictate that the WTO rules should not impede countries’ ability to support economic diversification. 

Inclusiveness also means empowering the women, the youth and the MSMEs to become export ready to avail trade opportunities, the Minister added.

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