WTO Unable to Seal the Global Trade Deal in Geneva

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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The director-general of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, confessed in a statement issued on Tuesday that negotiators have so far been unsuccessful to develop the first global trade deal in more than a decade, which might have resulted in $1 trillion boost in the world economy. Mr. Azevedo alleged that despite efforts of diplomats from the WTO’s 159 members, they “cannot cross the finish line here in Geneva” before a summit when ministers were planned to signed the deal in Bali, Indonesia.

Azevedo revealed that diplomats have entered a deadlock which will take more than weeks of negotiations making it impossible to finalize the deal in Bali. He stated that “holding negotiations in the short time we’ll have in Bali would be simply impractical with over 100 ministers around the table.” He pointed out that negotiations have been easier when they involve only two sides, for example when The European Union closed a free trade deal with South Korea and Canada.

It was highlighted that the failure to reach a global deal would “have grave consequences for the multilateral trade system,” while adding that it also hurts the WTO’s credibility as the organization will be consequently perceived as a trade court and not a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements. In his statement, Azevedo stated that “we managed to make progress in a large number of very difficult areas,” but “over the last few days, we stopped making the tough political calls. And this prevented us from getting to the finish line. We are indeed close, but not quite there.”

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