Meeting between Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Bern, 22.03.2022 - On Tuesday, 22 March, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, the head of the EAER, held an hour-long meeting in Geneva with WTO Director-General Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Among the topics addressed during the discussions were the impact of the war in Ukraine on the world trade system and the WTO, the state of progress on the key negotiation dossiers, and preparations for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference set to take place in Geneva in June.

Mr Parmelin and Dr Okonjo-Iweala discussed the Ukraine crisis and the looming global economic upheaval. They agreed that the world trade system anchored in the WTO, based on multilaterally agreed rules, is now particularly important. Federal Councillor Parmelin emphasised to the Director-General that in view of the major economic challenges, the whole world is more dependent than ever on trade being as free as possible, and both expressed their concern about the reduced trade in grain with Russia and Ukraine and the subsequent impending food crisis.

The focus of the current WTO negotiations is on strengthening trade rules to ensure a better supply of the population with appropriate medical goods in times of pandemic and to help overcome the economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. From Switzerland's point of view, it is of great importance that the relevant supply chains can also function well in times of crisis and that trade restrictions can be removed in this regard. Mr Parmelin also pointed out the great importance of protecting intellectual property for innovation worldwide.

Finally, Federal Councillor Parmelin and Director-General Okonjo-Iweala also exchanged views on priorities and preparations for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference.

While he was in Geneva, Mr Parmelin was also briefed by the Swiss Trading & Shipping Association (STSA) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) about the impact that the war in Ukraine is having on the city’s international trading hub.

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