FG tasks developing countries on improving food production, livelihoods

The Federal Government has reiterated the need for countries with emerging economies to adopt measures geared toward addressing the difficulties they are facing in food production and improved livelihoods.

The Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, said this in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the Director, Information, in the Ministry, Mrs Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa.

She said this can be achieved through provisions that will foster economic recovery as well as building resilient health and economic sectors.

The statement said Katagum spoke at the just-concluded 12th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC 12), held in Geneva, Switzerland, and led the Nigerian delegation to the conference.

She also urged Ministers of Trade to develop an institutional framework that would foster discussions toward the delivery of outcomes that would address the needs of Member States.

Katagum reiterated Nigeria’s position on agricultural trade reform, especially with respect to the key areas of Domestic support, Market Access, Public Stock Holding for food Security (PSH).

“Discussions on WTO reform need to adhere to the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, fairness and equity within the balance of the rights and obligations of all members under the covered Agreements.

“Member States should ensure that any future discussions on reform should focus on reaffirming and strengthening the multilateral character of the WTO.

“As part of the Conference’s outcome documents, a total of 10 Ministerial Decisions and Declarations were adopted by the Trade Ministers at MC12.

“Seven of them including the MC12 outcome document were considered and adopted by the MC12, while three (3) were considered by the General Council (GC) and brought forward to MC for adoption by the Ministers,” she said.

Katagum said history was made at the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference with the adoption of the 20 years outstanding agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

“Other decisions and declarations adopted at MC 12 included, Ministerial Decision on the TRIPS Agreement, Ministerial Declaration on the Emergency waiver response to food insecurity.

“It includes the Ministerial Decision on World Food Programme, Food Purchases Exemption from Export Prohibitions or Restrictions, Ministerial Declaration on the WTO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparedness for future pandemics.”

According to her, it took decision on Work Programme on Electronic Commerce, E-commerce Moratorium, MC Outcome Document, Decisions on TRIPS Non-violation and situation complaints, GC Declaration on Sanitary and PhytoSanitary and Ministerial Decision on the work programme for Small Economies.

On Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, she said MC 12 agreed that no member shall grant or maintain any subsidy to a vessel or operator engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or fishing related activities in support of fishing.

On Emergency response to food insecurity, Katagum said the ministerial conference agreed that trade and domestic production played a vital role in improving global food security in all dimensions as well as enhancing nutrition.

Discussions on WTO reform need to adhere to the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, fairness and equity within the balance of the rights and obligations of all members under the covered Agreements.

Trade facilitation

Katagum said the conference would also commit to take concrete steps to facilitate trade and improve the functioning and long term resilience of the global market for food and agriculture, including cereals, fertilizers and other agricultural production inputs.

According to her, particular consideration will be given to the specific needs and circumstances of developing countries.

The Minister also commended Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General WTO, on the way the sessions were structured, which she said provided members with constructive engagements, adoptions and decisions on identified priority areas.

The Ministerial Conference is the topmost decision making body of WTO which meets every two years and it brings together all members of the WTO to take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.

NAN recalls that Kazakhstan was originally scheduled to host MC12 in June 2020, but the conference was postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first conference held since the appointment of Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of WTO. (NAN)

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