Food security, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and fisheries subsidies will all be high on the agenda as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meets today (Sunday, June 12).

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar will be among the delegates at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.

This is the first meeting of world trade ministers since 2017 as the last conference was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event, which will run until Wednesday (June 15), includes four main ‘pillars’ of negotiations:

  • A ministerial outcome document and WTO reform;
  • Agriculture – including Food Security;
  • WTO response to the pandemic;
  • Fisheries Subsidies.

The Tánaiste is due to address the conference today and will call for progress on critical issues, along with emphasising the importance of free, multi-lateral trade.

Commenting in advance of the event, Leo Varadkar said:

“Putin’s war on Ukraine has seriously disrupted global food supplies. We all face the unwelcome prospect of higher food prices.

“In some countries, particularly in the global south, they face major food shortages.

“We’re lucky in Ireland that we produce more food than we eat, but I’m really conscious that is not the case in many nations and I hope we can reach an agreement on a declaration, agreed by all members on food security,” he added.

“Sanctions do not apply to food or medicines and we must work together to ensure that Ukraine can export its grain this year.

“Fisheries subsidies is another area I hope we can make some progress on. We want sustainable fishing, that protects the traditions and jobs of our coastal towns and villages into the long-term,” Varadkar said.

As part of the conference, the Tánaiste will also attend a solidarity event in aid of Ukraine which will highlight the efforts of the European Union and other partners in helping the country economically.