Saudi commerce minister calls on WTO to facilitate membership of more Arab countries

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to facilitate the admission of the world’s developing and least developed countries to the organization – Arab countries in particular – during the Ministerial Conference in Geneva, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

Dr. Majed bin Abdullah al-Gasabi, who is also the Chairman of the Foreign Trade General Authority, led the Kingdom’s delegation to the conference, which began in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday and is set to run until Wednesday.

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The four-day conference was off to a great start for the Kingdom on Sunday, as the minister led the meeting of the WTO’s Arab member states alongside the UN organization’s Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

On the sidelines of the conference, al-Gasabi reportedly held a series of meetings with his counterparts from various Arab countries, including Egypt’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Neven Jamea; Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zaid bin Rashid al-Zayani; Morocco’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Eng. Riyadh Mazoor; UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Abdullah al-Marri; Kuwait’s Minister of Commerce Fahd bin Mutlaq al-Shiraiaan; and Sudan’s Minister of Commerce and Supplies Dr. Amal Salih Saad.

These meetings were held to discuss bilateral trade relations and potential areas for enhancing economic cooperation.

Addressing the conference on Sunday, the Saudi minister said that the WTO was able to give more to the world, referring to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for wider vaccine distribution, as well as responding to the global food security crisis.

Created in 1995 as a successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO has seen a slow unraveling — not least because US objections have largely hamstrung its dispute-resolution system. The objections center on how the system is structured.

The WTO hasn’t produced a major trade deal in years.

The last one, reached nearly a decade ago, was an agreement that cut up red tape on goods clearing borders and was billed as a boost to lower-income countries.

With the Associated Press

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