What now for the WTO? Negotiating multilateral trade at MC12 in the wake of COVID-19

James Scott, Rorden Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers a full-length examination of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva between 12-17 June 2022. Its purpose is to assess critically the processes and outcomes of meeting and explore their significance for the future of multilateral trade and the WTO. The article begins with an exploration of the context in which MC12 took place, focusing on the role and effect of a series of geopolitical crises—including COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine—and enduring internal challenges, particularly in dispute settlement and the negotiating function. It then examines the dynamics of the conference before turning to each of the principal areas under negotiation during the meeting. Here the focus is on fisheries, e-commerce, agriculture, and the TRIPs waiver. Our argument is that although the outcome of the meeting represents something of a success—particularly in forging an agreement tackling harmful fisheries subsidies—significant challenges remain that threaten the long-term relevance of the organisation and its capacity to deliver on its core mandate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of World Trade
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Jan 2023


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