Decision on extending trade benefits for LDCs could be taken next year

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The next Ministerial Conference (MC) of the WTO in December 2023 may have a decision on the extension of trade benefits for least-developed countries (LDCs) which should upgrade the status of the United Nations to that of developing.

This was stated by Principal Trade Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh during a press conference at the Ministry of Commerce in Dhaka yesterday on the results of a recently concluded MC12 by the World Trade Organization (WTO). ).

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WTO member countries at MC12 held in Geneva last week reached a consensus that they would extend the benefits for a certain period for a smooth graduation.

However, the country leaders did not specify when and for how long the benefits would be extended.

That the extension be six to nine years was a major request from world leaders.

Ghosh said an opportunity had been created for Bangladesh to benefit from the extension once he graduated in 2026, but further negotiations were needed.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was supposed to attend the briefing but could not be infected with Covid-19 a second time.

Munshi led a six-member Bangladeshi delegation to WTO MC12, where the 46 LDCs participated led by Chad, a country at the crossroads of North and Central Africa, while Bangladesh was their main spokesperson.

On trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS), Ghosh said consensus could be reached by WTO members on allowing certain waivers, which was a major development.

This included allowing life-saving vaccines such as the one for Covid-19 to be produced without any notice to companies holding patents in the respective countries. However, Bangladesh’s request for the maintenance of a waiver of the TRIPS Agreement in the production of medicines until 31 December 2032, i.e. even after its withdrawal in 2026, did not been accepted.

Previously, the WTO removed TRIPS for LDCs on life-saving medicines, meaning they would not have to pay for patent rights, until December 2032. This allows LDCs to produce and to provide medicines to their consumers at low cost. prices.

Ghosh also said that a preferential trade agreement with Nepal is expected to be signed soon and that although Bangladesh is ready, Nepal is causing delays in some of its internal procedures.

Bangladesh’s trade minister held an important meeting with the Nepalese delegation to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference to expedite the signing, he said.

Another meeting was held with the Singaporean delegation to woo investment, the principal secretary said.

Last week, after intense negotiations for nearly six days and nights, the 164 member countries of the WTO reached consensus on seven major global issues to facilitate trade growth.

Issues include the WTO’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and preparedness for future pandemics, food security, World Food Program exemption from emergency food purchase restrictions, e-commerce , TRIPS waivers and fisheries subsidies.

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