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WTO chief asks members to "roll up their sleeves" as conference kicks off in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi: World Trade Organization (WTO) Director- General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Monday hoped that participating members of the global organisation will have to "roll up their sleeves" to show the world that it is a forum where members deliver new benefits for people through trade.
Ministers and delegates from across the world gathered in Abu Dhabi for a four-day World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting that began today, to discuss and deliberate upon global trade rules.
WTO is a global watchdog, founded about three decades ago now has 166 member countries, including India.
Speaking at the opening session of 13th Ministerial Conference of the WTO today, Okonjo-Iweala, said she hoped that this year's conference would be a success which countries across the globe "deserve" during these uncertain and difficult times.
"We will always have naysayers and detractors but there is no doubt that members have shown that we can deliver when members roll up their sleeves and must have the requisite political will," she said.
She said the atmosphere in the preparatory discussions in the run to the conference was "more constructive and conducive" than it was in the last ministerial conference.
"But there's still a considerable amount of work to do. Ministers will have to roll up their sleeves once more to complete the work leftover from Geneva," the WTO director general said.
The World Trade Organization's (WTO) 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) was held in Geneva, Switzerland from June 12-17, 2022.
During the Geneva conference, trade ministers secured a historic deal banning fisheries subsidies harmful to marine life and agreed to a temporary patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. They also committed themselves to re-establishing a dispute settlement system
In her inaugural address, the Director-General sid that the challenge this week is to prove that the global body can "still deliver" and demonstrate that the preceding conference was not just a "one-off miracle".
"We need to show the world that not only does the WTO underpin three quarters of global goods trade, but it also a forum where members deliver new benefits for people through trade," Okonjo-Iweala added.
Okonjo-Iweala is the seventh Director-General of the WTO. She took office on March 1, 2021, becoming the first woman and the first African to serve as Director-General. Her term of office will expire on August 31, 2025.
This year, Timor Leste and Comoros have been added as members of the WTO.
The DG in her opening session intervention welcomed Timor-Leste and Comoros to the WTO family and commended for their hard work in joining the organization.

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