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Vietnam attends 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva

Date 16/06/2022 - 10:26:00 | 121 views
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Hanoi – Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien joined trade ministers and senior officials from 164 member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) that took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 12-15.

Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien (first, right) at the conference. (Photo: VNA)

The Vietnamese delegation also included Ambassador Le Thi Tuyet Mai, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other international organisations in Geneva, and representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Addressing the event, Dien affirmed support for the multilateral trade system and Vietnam’s efforts to join hands with other WTO members to deal with challenges facing the global economy.

However, the minister pointed out a number of shortcomings of the organisation, including internal ones identified during MC11 yet hardly resolved until today.

“We should be aware as well that it is now time for the WTO to undertake fundamental reforms in order to maintain and strengthen its three core pillars, whilst adapting promptly to the profound changes and new requirements of the era. Never have we observed the issues on healthcare, environment, food security and supply-chain disruption become more pressing and urgent than today,” he said.

It is therefore imperative that the WTO members confront the root causes of these challenges and explore appropriate solutions so that the WTO can overcome them and continuously improve its operational efficiency, he stressed, adding that the WTO should not be limited itself to providing an effective negotiating platform, but also need to be a contributor to solving global crises, whilst maintaining and ensuring a level-playing field in the world trade.

He highlighted that since joining the WTO, Vietnam has been and will continue be wholeheartedly committed to the multilateral trading system.

“We are ready to cooperate with WTO members in maintaining and strengthening the multilateral system with WTO at its core, in promoting and facilitating trade and investment, as well as in ensuring the vital supplies of goods and materials in the region and across the world. At the same time, Vietnam is willing to stand with other members in ensuring sustainable development for the world economy, bringing inclusive benefits while striving to provide pragmatic support to the developing and least developed members,” he stated.
Vietnam is attaching great importance to key WTO negotiations such as fisheries and agricultural subsidies, he said, expressing hope that the members can focus on topics of urgency and interest such as securing supply of food and essential goods for the people in a comprehensive and practical fashion.

At a discussion on trade and climate change on the sidelines of MC12, the minister underlined that climate change mitigation is an important factor to achieve equality in the world, and held that the key issue is to achieve carbon neutrality while maintaining economic growth and improving living conditions for all, especially vulnerable groups.

He gave a number of proposals to speed up actions against climate change during trade activities, and underscored the need to take into account specific conditions of each country to avoid the mechanical application of environmental standards in developed countries to developing countries, either directly or indirectly.
According to the minister, the formation of an alliance of trade ministers in climate change can be a way to realise these goals, along with the enhancement of cooperation and discussion not only within the WTO but also regional and bilateral collaboration frameworks.

At a meeting of Cairns Group, a coalition of 19 agricultural product exporting countries, Dien highlighted three issues that need to be prioritised - the application of trade-distorting subsidies or domestic support measures, affecting many important commodities such as sugar and other essential agricultural products; the application of special safeguards in agriculture that leads to unequal farm produce trade; and measures recently adopted by some countries following geopolitical and supply chain tensions, which directly threaten global food security and may lead to several chain reactions.

An overview of the conference (Photo: VNA)

Dien also joined a number of MC12 sideline discussions and held some bilateral meetings with some partners such as the European Unicon, Australia, Singapore, and Israel

The WTO Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body of the organisation, which takes place every two years. However, due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, MC12 was postponed twice. This was a good chance for the WTO to prove that trade is part of solutions to many great challenges in the current era, whether public health or the environment./.

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