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WTO postpones conference over new COVID-19 variant

WTO postpones conference over new COVID-19 variant
November 27
18:22 2021

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has postponed a major conference scheduled for next week in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO director-general, said this on Friday night.

The conference, EU trade ministers’ consultations, was postponed indefinitely.

This is coming as world leaders imposed travel restrictions due to a new and particularly transmissible variant of COVID-19.

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Countries, including Switzerland, suspended passenger flights from seven southern African countries to contain the potentially more dangerous coronavirus strain.

Trade ministers had planned to negotiate on several pressing issues, including relaxing vaccine patents, eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies and WTO reforms.

The delay is the second time the meeting has been postponed because of the pandemic, as it was originally scheduled for June 2020.

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“It is better to err on the side of caution,’’ Okonjo-Iweala said.

“Many still wanted to attend in person and would have been disadvantaged by the new restrictions.”

The conference was set to run until Dec. 3. It was planned as a hybrid event, with attendees able to come to Geneva or join online.

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