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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[Reuters] Unanimous agreement passed in World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) unanimously passes 14th Ministerial Agreement, concluding their session at the 2024 MUN conference. 

The decision, sponsored by Brazil, France, and the United States, detailed 14 points related to improving the resilience of the global supply chains and similar relations. The communique specialized on the following areas of concern: diversification, sustainability solutions, reforms of the Appellate Body of the WTO, and improving/safeguarding the agricultural sector of supply chains. 

In a statement made by the United States to Reuters, “Obviously we were happy to pass this resolution. We expect to see more objectives like this including: more transparency within supply chains and cooperation, more flexibility and resilience, and more environmentally friendly measures”

As the WTO is a consensus-based committee, multiple days of disputes, deadlocks, and blocking projected the committee toward failure to produce and agree upon a formal decision. Nonetheless, all 15 countries voted in favor of the resolution.

With the delegate of China absent, the committee agreed to take a ‘neutral’ stance in acknowledging and surpassing the obstacle. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was crucial to the Chinese delegates' approach to global supply chains and the positioning of developed and lesser developed countries within the conversation. It was decided to emit the BRI from the nine page document altogether.

Here's the document:

14th WTO Ministerial Conference

Sponsors: Brazil, France, United States

Signatories: Greece, Indonesia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom


Acknowledging the past agreements and documents, such as inter alia the GATT, TRIPS, SGP, and DSU as a vital foundation for the following decisions,


Noting that, since 1996, the WTO deferred work on labor standards to International Labour Organization as the competent body,


Recognising the valuable efforts of the United Nations Human Rights Council since 2014 across multiple meetings for the drafting of the Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights,


Acknowledging the detrimental impacts on agricultural sectors and natural reserves, as well as the adverse effects on domestic economies, local populations, and indigenous communities arising from the heightened concentration of maritime vessels within trade chokepoints, notably straits and canals characterized by intense international trade activities, signifies a pressing concern warranting scholarly attention,


Reaffirming that the increasing waiting times for trade vessels at eastern and western ports over the past decade, with each hour of idle freight costing over $1,000, highlights a significant economic burden and operational challenge for the maritime industry and its stakeholders,


Emphasizing the vast potential for Global Value Chains in African-South American Cooperation (ASA) as well as Asia-Pacific Cooperation under the framework of South-South Cooperation Unit of the United Nations,



The World Trade Organization decides that:

1.     Companies are encouraged to report an analysis to the government of the country where their headquarters is located, potentially including the following:

a.     Identification of the most vulnerable features of  their supply chains,

b.     Analysis of potential risks and an outline of the plan of the company for alienating these risks,

c.     Points where bottlenecks may appear and the response plan of the company, should it be the case,

d.     Alternative sourcing options to reduce dependence on single suppliers or regions,


2.     Each national government is encouraged to collect all data mentioned in Operative Clause 1 and centralize it in an annual report to the World Trade Organization, which will use the data in a Risk Assessment Database (RAD) with the following purposes and goals:

a.     Creating a general outline of the global supply chains, which will serve as a guideline for the World Trade Organization to map the largest and most recurrent vulnerabilities,

b.     Exploring the causes of existing and potential disruptions in supply chains and establishing further research initiatives to constantly look into possible solutions, the findings of which shall be reported to the World Trade Organization and its findings will be used as recommendations for decisions in future Ministerial Meetings,

c.     Issuing recommendations to each Member State with regards to the supply chains they are part of, with the purpose of preventing and addressing risks, vulnerabilities and the response time should disruptions appear,

d.     Analyzing the effects and risks the imposition of financial sanctions and other non-tariff barriers might entail on global supply chains, which shall be then reported to every individual Member State,

e.     Creation of a centralized database of supply chain disruptions and best practices to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration and establishing a global supply chain monitoring and early warning system to identify potential disruptions and share real-time information,

f.      Suggests creating an analytically calculated report of gaps and weaknesses and finding solutions accordingly, making use of the RAD resources,


3.     Further discussion of a reform of the appellate body will be held as follows:

a.     The establishment of a pool from WTO member states, under the following guidelines:

                                                            i.         The experts will serve for 5 years,

                                                          ii.         They will serve their duty neutrally, without representation or affiliation to any Contracting Parties,

                                                         iii.         From here on forward, the pool shall serve as the source of members of the reformed appellate body, being drafted randomly on a case-by-case basis,

                                                         iv.         The established panels for each case shall consist of 7 members,

b.     The expansion of the mandate of the appellate body, potentially illicit tools to manipulate terms of trade and or current accounts such as foreign exchange interventions,

c.     The inclusion of a Fast Track option to the appellate process will be introduced governed by the following rules,

i. When Contracting Parties deem their claim to have significant precedent, they have the option to submit for the Fast Track,

ii. Following the submission, the panel drawn for the Fast Track will be tasked to analyze the relevant precedent shallowly in order to deem whether the Fast Track is applicable to the claim,

iii. Following the decision, if the claim is deemed applicable, the Fast Track Panel will ponder further on the claim to reach a decision,

iv. Following the decision, if the claim is deemed inapplicable, a new panel will be formed conventionally to preside the case,


4.     Submitting a third-party-submission on the next UNHRC inter-sessional consultations on behalf of the WTO is necessary, following the establishment of a working group consulting the negotiations on matters of:

a.     Conducting risk assessment on possible outcomes of the proposed regulations and,

b.     Facilitating transitions of Global Supply Chains based on upcoming drafts of the Legally Binding Instrument on Business and Human Rights is necessary,


5.     Implementing a reporting system for the sustainability of global supply chains is beneficial, allowing WTO Member States to voluntarily file a report on the environmental impacts of goods and supply chain elements, specifically noting under Article XX of the GATT, WTO members have autonomy over their own environmental objectives,


6.     Further encouragement of the spread of sustainability to social sustainability, defined as managing and monitoring supply chains to ensure compliance of ethical, human rights and employment standards, as expressed in both the International Labour Organisation’s and World Trade Organisation Fundamental Conventions,


7.     It will define economic sustainability which as a principle relating not only to obtaining value for contracts, across the life of the product or service, but also ensuring as far as is possible to provide services,


8.     The following good-practice guidelines are recommended to Contracting Parties’ industries for them to follow to increase supply chain transparency, visibility and efficiency:

a.     Working towards integrating all the company’s systems such as people, applications, machines, and information to form a connected supply chain with an increased response rate to disruptions and the ability to quickly search and find relevant information,

b.     Increase collaboration with stakeholders by sharing information across the entirety of the network, with the aim of keeping relevant people involved and informed,, and form cohesion within the supply chain,

c.     Mapping processes to help uncover and prevent bottlenecks or redundant steps that cause delays through means such as, but not limited to:

                                                            i.         Detailing the individual steps that each process will follow,

                                                          ii.         Analyzing data collected to predict the behavior of supply chains and reducing emissions through the optimization of trade routes,

d.     Balance investments in digital technologies with ones in digital dexterity, ensuring that the personnel is well prepared to handle modernization of the appropriate equipment,

e.     Host frequent collaboration meetings both horizontally and vertically with stakeholders,

f.      Encourage the collaboration between industry academia, government, and relevant stakeholders in order to foster research and development in supply chain management and resilience, as well as the provision of the necessary forums to do so,


9.     A call upon the United Nations Development Programme is required to address the need of digitization and automation of supply chains, through the following measures, using their existing network and the information provided though the risk assessment programme mentioned in Clauses 1 and 2:

a.     Fostering investments and programmes for infrastructure development in areas that have been identified to pose risks to supply chains with the aim of preventing any bottlenecks,

b.     Collaborating with public institutions and relevant private companies

c.     to implement tracking technologies for shipments to enable a smoother flow of goods and increase the response rate in case of a bottleneck or other disruptions,

d.     Focusing primarily on LDCs and developing countries with manufacturing industries and their automation in order to reduce waste and increase welfare of workers,

e.     Fostering AI and new technology to increase electronic documentation in order to reduce bureaucratic hurdles, streamlining customs procedures, and reducing paperwork,

f.      Suggesting the World Bank (WB) the assessment for the need of an investment platform with the aim of pinpointing most critical sectors and countries in need of digitized initiatives,

g.     Setting a future discussion of expanding digital trade and e-commerce platforms,


10.  The use of the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) and Global Supply Resilience initiatives for financial inclusion and any bilateral, and multilateral agreements for example is the next step towards long-term resilience and their importance, notably their focus on transparency, investment acts, non-financial contributions such as knowledge sharing and assistance, and as frameworks for long term connectivity and communication,


11.  Further incentivizing Foreign Direct Investments is beneficial, especially in infrastructure and digitalization through expanding the RAD perspective to a digital platform sharing individual supply chain capacities, potential threats and alternatives with the purpose of fostering transparency and sharing best practice,


12.  Further emphasizes the importance of a proof-of-concept approach for maximizing the effectiveness of initiatives, through knowledge sharing between ongoing initiatives to help improve their functioning, resulting in an effective evolution of these and new initiatives, better risk management and more robust bases for unexpected future crises and problems,


13.  In regards to diversification:

a.     Encourages enterprises worldwide to reassess their supply chain diversification and, if they see it to be appropriate, take measures to increase it in order to decrease the risk of disruptions,

b.     Suggests an analysis to determine possible alternatives to current suppliers and transport routes that will allow for nations to spread their sources of goods,

c.     Endorses a South-South cooperation and other multilateral agreements between developing countries to allow these countries to diversify and benefit from local markets,


14.  It will facilitate investments in infrastructure projects, with the goal of alleviating the congestion of trade routes, consisting of:

a.     Usage of the RAD report to assess salient weaknesses and areas of high risk for global supply chains,

b.     Construction of railways in support of dense maritime trade routes in parallel to the previously utilized routes identified as high risk areas, addressing weaknesses identified, where the terrain permits,

c.     Construction and capacity increasing of ports on secondary maritime routes identified as high risk areas that could serve as alternatives to the already utilized ones,


15.  With regard to Agriculture, improve resilience mainly through:

a.     Increasing anticipative and preventive capacities to reduce the hazard of shocks through encouragement of infrastructure investment, R&D, and health and hygiene practices, as well as the development of monitoring and early warning systems for improved reaction speed, information sharing and collaboration,

b.     Increasing absorptive capacity to reduce losses and damages (and therefore vulnerability) through encouraging emergency relief and social protection (mostly for small and local agricultural producers), and standards for emergency reserve stocks. Countries could enter bilateral or multilateral agreements for the provision of such,

c.     Increasing reconstruction capabilities, through encouraging R&D, training and international and regional coordination. For this purpose investing in infrastructure is crucial, and therefore we should coordinate efforts to mobilize resources and technical assistance through multilateral infrastructure projects, particularly in developing countries,

d.     Increasing transformative capacity through the promotion of digitalization, and the sharing of technological best practices. Invest in digital infrastructure, such as broadband networks and data centers, to support e-commerce and digital trade,

e.     Aiming to reduce Export Bans on any and all agricultural products and also noting the negative Snowball-Effects these Bans can have,

f.      Encourages Member States to invest in technology and infrastructure to improve efficiency and productivity of their farming land.  Also promotes collaboration among farmers and producers to strengthen their bargaining power within the supply chain,

g.     Consider holding a conference on reforming Article XI of the GATT with regards to agricultural tariff quotas during commodity price spikes,


16.  A copy of this document translated to French and Spanish will be present in WTO archives, all three documents deemed to be equally authentic.

EuroMUN Committee: World Trade Organization (WTO)


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