WTO should develop digital trade rules, UAE says at ministerial conference in Geneva

The UAE hopes to host the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi

Abdulla bin Touq, Minister of Economy, led the UAE delegation to the12th WTO Ministers Conference in Geneva. Photo: Ministry of Economy
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The World Trade Organisation must focus on developing and adopting digital trade rules, the UAE said at the WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva, where it reiterated its backing for multilateral trade as a growth driver.

The organisation should also strengthen its dispute settlement system, increase the participation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in global trade, preserve special treatment for developing countries and ensure sustainability is at the core of its decision-making, Abdulla bin Touq, the UAE's Minister of Economy, said during his address at the 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The UAE has always been a staunch supporter of the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its centre,” he said.

“We all have a shared responsibility to safeguard the multilateral trading system by injecting stability and building resilience. We fully support the WTO and want to work together with member states to shape a stronger, sustainable, more inclusive global economy that benefits all people.”

The UAE’s participation in the ministerial conference comes as the country continues to strengthen its position as a key driver of global trade through a series of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements. These deals are aimed at boosting non-oil trade and investment with the Emirates' key partners.

The UAE signed the CEPA deal with India in February and with Israel in May. It is in trade talks with several other countries, including Indonesia and South Korea.

Mr bin Touq also expressed the UAE’s wish to host the 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, both to advance the multilateral trade agenda and to showcase the UAE’s solution-orientated approach to current supply chain issues, including the embracing of advanced technologies and digital trade, he said.

The conference in Geneva comes at a critical time for the multilateral trading system, with strong leadership required to tackle the complex challenges and transformations the world is now facing, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said.

“The UAE firmly believes that we have the obligation to deliver a more inclusive future for global trade, one that is built on trust and co-operation. That will take vision and it will take action,” he said.

“As the world shifts to embrace digitalisation and the fourth industrial revolution, it is vital that we move forward on issues such as knowledge-sharing, the flow of human capital and technology, and digital trade rules if we want to make sure our global trading system is adaptable, future-proofed and fit for purpose.”

The UAE delegation to the conference included Ahmed Aljarman, the UAE's Ambassador in Geneva, Juma Al Kait, assistant undersecretary for International Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Economy, and other senior representatives from UAE public sector entities.

The four-day conference will conclude on June 15 at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva. It is co-hosted by Kazakhstan and chaired by Timur Suleimenov, deputy chief of staff of Kazakhstan's president.

The gathering of trade and economy ministers from around the world is its first in-person meeting since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Updated: June 14, 2022, 3:09 PM