DAVOS: WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday said trade will be a key part of the solution to multiple challenges that the world is facing today, including the war in Ukraine, climate crisis, COVID-19 pandemic and the food crisis.
Addressing a press conference here on trade outcomes from Davos, she said the multiple crises that the world is facing today is very unusual.
“One thing that is common to all these crises is that no single country can solve any one of them,” she added.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) chief said boosting trade would be key to helping the recovery, as there are so many downside risks at the moment.
Trade has always been part of the solution and this is true for the challenges the world is facing today, she noted.
“The food crisis that we are in now, there also trade would be a key resolving measure. We at WTO want the countries to ensure that there is no significant spike in prices. We are very worried about the situation, including on how to move the grain stuck in Ukraine,” she said.
She also said a high profile group of UN and associated agencies is looking into issues like safe corridor.
She further said there was a good prospect of lifting export controls to handle the food crisis in a way that is transparent and temporary. There may be some countries that have surplus foodgrain and hoarding may not be a good idea in such a situation, she added.
The WTO chief also said the food crisis may last a bit longer if there is no safe corridor and in that case, she would urge the developing countries to look at increasing their production.
At the conference, World Economic Forum (WEF) President Borge Brende said the world is facing a slow recovery. He also said there was a need to incentivise trade and help strengthen the recovery.
Some countries face a real risk of slipping into recession due to slower growth and very high inflation, he said, while stressing on the need to boost trade and investments to help the global economic recovery.
Brende said the food crisis being faced by the world is the worst in a long time and therefore countries should look at lifting export bans and not impose hasty restrictions, while they should also consider ways to increase their production capacities.
He also suggested that companies in the food business should form a coalition to look into ways how they can help in such a situation.
The WTO chief said these are very difficult times for everyone and also for trade ministers. They will have a difficult time when they come at the upcoming WTO ministerial for negotiations.
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