On June 12, 2022, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to adapt to face society’s major challenges of food insecurity, environmental degradation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on global food security, the Minister pleaded for the entire WTO to speak out against export restrictions. For environmental protection, Schreinemacher called on members to reach an agreement on fisheries subsidies to safeguard global fish stocks and facilitate trade in environmental goods and services. In addition, the Minister stated that a WTO COVID-19 response is long overdue, affecting global health and trade.
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recognized these major challenges, but stated that the road to WTO reform and successful trade agreements will be “bumpy and rocky.” The last major WTO trade deal was produced nearly a decade ago. In her remarks, Schreinemacher acknowledged that it “will only get harder to reach consensus among 164 members.”