Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, together with Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Bulelani Magwanishe have arrived in Buenos Aires in Argentina for the 11th World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference (MC11), the trade and industry department (dti) said on Saturday.
The ministerial conference – the highest decision-making body in the WTO – would be held from December 10 to 13 and would be attended by delegates of the WTO’s 164 member countries, the dti said in a statement.
“The informal Africa ministers of trade meeting on the WTO that was held on 18 September 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, reiterated Africa’s commitment to the development mandate of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and agreed that Africa should seek outcomes that provide policy space for Africa to pursue integration and industrialisation to drive the process of structural transformation across the African continent. This meeting was jointly hosted by South Africa and the African Union Commission (AUC).
“The ministers also agreed on the need to ensure that the outcomes achieved at the multilateral level do not undermine the continent’s development integration agenda that encompasses market integration, industrial development, and infrastructure development,” the dti said.
According to Davies, the MC11 was to be held at a time of “increasing backlash against multilateralism and trade liberalisation due to the lack of inclusive growth”.
“There is a need to define a new form of ‘inclusive multilateralism’. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its 2017 Trade and Development Report calls for a ‘global new deal’ to enhance growth and development,” Davies said.
South Africa believed there was a need to define a new form of “inclusive multilateralism” that promoted inclusive growth and sustainable development, and the MC11 could provide an opportunity to start a discussion on this issue, he said.
South Africa’s priorities were aligned to those of the African group and the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) group. The key priority was therefore to conclude the outstanding work of the DDA, including in agriculture, to address the “trade distorting” domestic support subsidies being provided by mainly developed countries.
He also noted that there were many proposals on the different issues discussed at the WTO, but there seemed to be very little convergence.
“On the SA side, we are assessing each of the proposed issues to determine whether they can indeed be delivered, whether they meet SA’s most urgent developmental needs, and whether they involve demands that unacceptably limit our policy space,” Davies said.
– African News Agency (ANA)