Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele, has expressed Solomon Islands’ concerns and perspectives on various crucial aspects during the WTO 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) underway in Abu Dhabi.

Manele also highlighted the challenges on the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement.

“Significant ground has been covered, and some tough decisions must be made if we are to have a meaningful outcome that fully meets SDG 14.6 and Paragraph 4 of the MC12 Decision on Fisheries Subsidies.”

“It is crucial that we are able to take stock of deadlines set at MC12 and further map a pathway for WTO work post-MC13. From Solomon Islands’ perspective, some progress has been made, but we need to do more in the coming four days of the Conference to achieve an outcome that we can live with,” he told the conference

Manele stressed the objective of MC13, saying, “Our objective in this Ministerial Conference must be to ensure the multilateral trading system continues in its relevance and that it is capable of responding to the global challenges we face and at the same time it provides a conducive environment for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.”

He expressed regret over the current text, which seems to favour major subsidisers, and called for effective and meaningful disciplines that target large, industrialized vessels from Distant Water Fishing Nations.

Regarding WTO Reform, Manele emphasised the need for a balanced approach that accommodates the interests of all Members.

“WTO Reforms should be open, transparent, inclusive, development-oriented, engender policy space for economic growth and development, and be premised on decisions by consensus,” he said

On Dispute Settlement reform, he noted progress in the informal process, emphasising the importance of clear ownership under the WTO with a formal, open, and inclusive process.

Regarding E-commerce, Manele welcomed the work rejuvenation but stressed the need for a development dimension.

He proposed a temporary extension of the E-commerce moratorium to MC14 to allow necessary assessments on revenue impacts to the government.

Discussing Development, Manele expressed deep concern over the lack of progress and highlighted the vulnerabilities of Solomon Islands as a coastal, geographically dispersed country.

He called for more development action, asserting that Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) is a treaty-embedded right for developing countries and LDCs.

Manele acknowledged the importance of the WTO Ministers Meeting and highlighted the need to take stock of deadlines set at MC12 and map a pathway for WTO work post-MC13.

He reiterated Solomon Islands’ commitment to constructive engagement during MC13 to contribute to a successful outcome of the Conference.