GENEVA (Reuters) - The head of the World Trade Organization on Tuesday voiced optimism that trade deals could be reached at the next major ministerial meeting in February 2024.
More than 1,000 trade officials are meeting in Geneva this week to try to advance negotiations ahead of a meeting in the United Arab Emirates next year where deals are being sought on fisheries and WTO reforms, among other topics.
"All in all it was a positive meeting. Dare I say it lifted my spirits that we are on the right path to achieving the deliverables," WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a press conference, adding that discussions on fisheries and dispute settlement reforms had been the most promising.
WTO members reached a historic package of deals in June 2022 including a ban on some fishing subsidies that has the potential to reverse collapsing fish stocks. However, only part of the deal was finalised and negotiations continue.
"It is clearly our ambition to conclude the negotiations by December," the talks' chair Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland told Reuters earlier on Tuesday, saying senior officials had communicated a "strong commitment" to advance.
WTO members are also trying to agree on reform proposals to its trade dispute system which has been only partially functional since U.S. opposition to judge appointments paralysed its top court in December 2019.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)