Samoa’s Minister of Trade Negotiations, Leota Laki Lamositele, has addressed the WTO MC13 in Abu Dhabi, expressing the high expectations the Pacific nation has for the conference amid the challenging global scenario.

“Our expectations for MC13 are high, as the world has not gotten any better since the conclusion of MC12 in June 2022,” stated Lamositele.

He highlighted the persisting challenges, including increased geopolitical tensions, rising food prices, and reduced food availability impacting global regions.

Lamositele expressed concern over the lack of progress in WTO negotiations on key issues such as agriculture, fisheries subsidies, WTO reform, special and differential treatment, and services.

He pointed out the impact of non-tariff barriers in some Members’ unilateral environmental sustainability regulations, hindering exports from Samoa and other OACPS members.

“As a result, our members have not been able to significantly increase their exports and currently account for only about two percent of world trade,” Lamositele said, emphasising the disproportion between the OACPS’s significant population representation and its limited contribution to global GDP.

While supporting the vital role of the WTO in enhancing developing countries’ participation in global trade, Lamositele stressed the need for fair and predictable rules to promote economic diversification and fight hunger.

“The world needs the WTO now more than ever to respond to people’s urgent needs. MC13 provides us a good opportunity to do so,” he said.

Addressing specific areas on the agenda, Lamositele discussed Samoa’s active participation in fisheries subsidies negotiations, advocating for targeted disciplines on major subsidisers while exempting Least Developed Countries and those with a minimal share of the global fish catch.

On agriculture, Samoa called for addressing distortions in the global agricultural market, emphasising the importance of Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) for small developing countries like Samoa.

Lamositele urged a Permanent Solution on Public Stockholding for food security purposes.

Regarding WTO reform, Samoa emphasised an inclusive and transparent process, upholding the principles of the WTO and special and differential treatment.

Lamositele underlined the need for WTO reform to focus on equitable growth, poverty reduction, and sustainable development in developing countries.

Recognising the potential of E-commerce, Samoa supported discussions on the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce and called for the extension of the moratorium on electronic transmissions up to MC14.

Lamositele also reaffirmed Samoa’s commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading system and expressed confidence in the relevance of the WTO to contribute to global growth and economic stability.