Thank you very much.
Good morning, everyone.
As some of you may know, I wear three hats here in Geneva. I am the head of the permanent mission of Canada to the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and other international organizations. I am Canada's alternate permanent representative to the United Nations, and I am the ambassador and permanent representative of Canada to the World Trade Organization.
It is a real pleasure to be here today in my capacity under that third hat, as Canada's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, to update you on the latest developments at the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.
The three pillars of the WTO—the deliberative, the negotiating and the dispute settlement pillars—are all of enormous importance to Canada. The work to maintain, improve and strengthen all three is ongoing. Working to uphold, safeguard and continuously improve the system has been a cornerstone of Canada's trade policy since its inception and remains so today. With that context, let me move to where we are today.
As was the case with many things due to the pandemic, the WTO 12th ministerial conference was delayed and eventually took place from June 12 to June 17, 2022. MC12, as it's known, produced a set of outcomes that represent the most significant package to come out of the WTO in recent years.
Could there have been a higher level of ambition? Well, Canada is a high-ambition, high-standard member, so the answer to that question will almost always be yes. However, the MC12 outcomes were significant and set the ground for the pathway forward.
Let me provide you with an overview of some of what was achieved.
Significant was the WTO agreement on fishery subsidies. It is the first sustainable development goal target to be fully met. It is the first SDG target met through a multilateral agreement, the first WTO agreement to focus on the environment and the first broad, binding multilateral agreement on ocean sustainability.
The moratorium on not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions will continue to provide predictability for our businesses and our consumers, as members have agreed to extend the moratorium until the next ministerial conference or until March 2024.
Under the consensus-based decision that is commonly known as the ministerial decision on the TRIPS agreement or the TRIPS waiver, eligible developing country members may waive certain TRIPS provisions on patents for COVID-19 vaccines.
MC12 outcomes also included a package on WTO responses to emergencies, a ministerial declaration on the WTO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparedness for future pandemics, a decision on World Food Programme food purchases and a declaration on the emergency response to food insecurity.
This is where we are, coming out of the last ministerial conference.
Where are we going? As I already noted, Canada would have liked to have seen more ambition at MC12, and we are not alone in that regard. In all three of the pillars, members have already committed to doing more and under ambitious timelines.
Members have committed to the restoration of a fully functioning dispute settlement system by 2024. Members have begun work toward the implementation of the fisheries agreement and have already begun work on what I like to call the second generation of the fisheries agreement.
Discussions have already begun on whether to extend the TRIPS waiver to cover patents for the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics.
There is broad agreement among the membership that a way forward on agriculture is needed.
Members are also re-energized around the improvement of the deliberative function of the organization. Work around WTO reform of this function will feature prominently over the coming months.
The path to success will be as challenging as we know member-driven, consensus-based and legally binding success to be, but it is doable. Canada will continue our active engagement across all of the pillars. The Ottawa Group, inaugurated in 2018 under Canada's leadership, will continue to serve as a much-needed forum for incubating ideas and creating positive momentum across the organization. This will be of crucial importance in the lead-up to MC13, which is expected to take place before March 2024.
Before I close and hand it over for the discussion and questions, let me underscore that overarching in Canada’s engagement at the WTO is our commitment to constructive participation in the work on development across the organization and our active engagement on trade and gender and on MSMEs to ensure that these important issues are brought to the forefront.
We are also demonstrating considerable leadership in the area of trade and environment and serve as co-coordinator for the structured discussions on trade and environmental sustainability.
Thank you very much. I look forward to the discussion.