The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) WTO Members were represented by a fifteen-member strong contingent, including three Ministers of Trade, the Director General of the OECS, three Ambassadors and, senior trade officials at the Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from June 12 to 17 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Across all negotiating areas, including the informal session on challenges facing the multilateral trading system, the OECS spoke firmly and with one voice. OECS representatives focused their messages on taking action to preserve the integrity of the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core; strengthening the development dividend of the WTO for developing and least-developed countries; and delivering concrete outcomes on issues which are affecting its citizens such as food security and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OECS Delegation comprised:
- Hon. Keisal Peters, Minister of State with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, led the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines delegation. Minister Peters was also the lead spokesperson for the OECS at MC12. In a first for both Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the OECS, Minister Peters was also selected by the WTO Director-General as a Minister-Facilitator for the thematic discussions on electronic commerce.
- Hon. Everly Paul Chet Greene, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Immigration, led the Antigua and Barbuda Delegation.
- Hon. Ian Douglas, Minister for Trade, led the delegation from the Commonwealth of Dominica.
- His Excellency Mr. Justin Sun, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO led the delegation from Grenada.
- His Excellency Mr. Anthony Severin, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO led the delegation from Saint Lucia.
- His Excellency Dr. Didacus Jules, Director-General of the OECS, led the delegation from the OECS Commission.
The Geneva Package, as the multilaterally negotiated outcomes are being called, resulted in a series of key trade initiatives. The package adopted by WTO members includes:
- an outcome document;
- a package on WTO response to emergencies, comprising:
- a Ministerial Declaration on the Emergency Response to Food Insecurity;
- a Ministerial Decision on World Food Programme (WFP) Food Purchases Exemptions from Export Prohibitions or Restrictions;
- a Ministerial Declaration on the WTO Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Preparedness for Future Pandemics; and
- a Ministerial Decision on the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
- a Decision on the E-commerce Moratorium and Work Programme; and
- an Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.
In addition, Ministers adopted two decisions: the Work Programme on Small Economies and on the TRIPS non-violation and situation complaints and; a Sanitary and Phytosanitary Declaration for the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference: Responding to Modern SPS Challenges.
Unfortunately, WTO ministers were unable to agree on a concrete outcome on agriculture, a development which was met with disappointment by the OECS and many other delegations.
On the margins of MC12, the OECS also took the opportunity to have a series of engagements with important partners, namely the International Trade Centre, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States and, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
Overall, MC12 was a success and the OECS played a very important role in building consensus, including by participating in several “green room” sessions convened by the WTO Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, as well as in reaching across the aisle to other members to ensure that OECS interests were secured.
The OECS statements can be found below.