Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday 11 May 2022 - At the concluded World Trade Organisation Council meeting, Sierra Leone's Deputy Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, WTO, and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, His Excellency, Samuel U. B Saffa Esq, has delivered Sierra Leone`s statement during the regular meeting of the WTO General Council in Switzerland.
Ambassador Saffa welcomed the confirmation of the Twelfth Ministerial Conference that will be held from 12 to 15 June, noting that the last Ministerial Conference was back in 2017.
Ambassador Saffa Esq. pointed out that Sierra Leone support the proposal to move forward with the mutually agreed elements from the former Chair’s latest version in November 2021 and encouraged members to engage constructively in a solution-oriented manner.
He commended WTO’s response to the pandemic, noting that measures taken in the context of the pandemic should reflect the needs the of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like Sierra Leone, including LDC-specific flexibilities and trade facilitation measures needed to address the issue of food insecurity, product availability, and equitable access to vaccines and therapeutics.
On fisheries, Ambassador Saffa said Sierra Leone is a coastal country and therefore vulnerable to overfishing due to the subsidies afforded to foreign vessels. ‘’While we strongly support the conclusion of an agreement, we must ensure the long-standing responsibility of members for overcapacity and overfishing must be duly taken into account in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. We are of the view that it is possible to achieve an agreement that institutes the effective and unconditional enjoyment of appropriate special and differential treatment with a de mininis, the exclusion of artisanal or subsistence fishing from the scope of this agreement, the strict and unambiguous protection of overfished stocks, the effective sanctioning of industrial and large-scale vessels guilty of illegal fishing, and the respect of the sovereignty of States over their waters. In this context, Sierra Leone reiterates its readiness to negotiate on the basis of the last version of the Chair’s text from November 2021 and call on the Chair to convene meetings with a view to resolving the outstanding issues before submission of the text for Ministers consideration’’, Deputy Ambassador Saffa noted.
On agriculture, Ambassador Saffa Esq maintained that Sierra Leone note with concern that because of the imbalances on the Agreement on Agriculture, a vast majority of developing countries are unable to meet their food security needs and hundreds of millions of people face food insecurity. ‘’We therefore need to work towards the delivery of targeted outcomes that would address the structural causes of food insecurity and unlock developing countries production capacities. We are of the view that our preparation must be centred around food security, with tangible progress on domestic support, including support needed to enhance the production capacity of, and economic opportunities for, small-scale farmers, Public Stockholding and Special Safeguard Mechanism as well as finalizing an agreement on World Food Programme purchases’’.
Ambassador Saffa, reiterated Sierra Leone’s commitment for an inclusive, transparent, open and rules-based multilateral trading system within the framework of the WTO.
He affirmed Sierra Leone`s commitment to engage constructively towards a successful convening of the 12 the Ministerial Conference scheduled for June 2022.
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