The World Trade Organisation 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) negotiations have been extended by a day by the Director General of WTO, Madam Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealato. This extension which comes after consultations between the DG, the chair of MC12, Kazakhstan, the vice chairs and ministerial facilitators, aims to afford additional time to negotiators to find one another on important issues under discussions.

“Progress has been made on the draft Ministerial Declaration on Trade and Food Security. This Declaration aims to address the current food insecurity emergencies arising from impacts of a number of challenges, including climate change, geo-political tensions and rising costs of agricultural inputs,” said Minister Didiza

“The negotiations on the draft text on the Ministerial Decision on the World Food Programme (WFP) Food Purchases Exemption from Export Prohibitions and Restrictions are optimistically tilted towards a likely solution. Such a decision is likely to give predictability and certainty on WFP procurement.”

However, the negotiations on the Ministerial Decision on Agriculture that details the envisaged work programme remain largely divergent and too wide at this stage. Work is currently being undertaken to try to bridge the divide relating to this Programme. Apart from initial broad plenary statements where member states expressed varying and divergent views and the subsequent Green Room process, which attempted to bridge points of divergence, there has been insignificant rapprochement in the negotiations.

Minister Didiza believes that the stalemate on this matter is indicative of the complexity and emotions that such evoke amongst member countries.

“The danger of not giving direction on the work programme may mean the death of regulating agricultural trade now and in the future,” said Minister Didiza.

“This will open up arbitrary trading rules that may have an effect of building walls and protectionism thereby killing fair trade in agricultural products amongst and between countries.”