The ongoing negotiations in the WTO are unusually difficult to predict right now. On one level there are intensive negotiations on concrete and important issues. But on another level a bigger and more ideological discussion is growing in importance. We need to stay focused and tread lightly.

Recently, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Robert Azevêdo and Sweden’s Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde met in Stockholm for talks on the challenges facing global trade in these times of protectionist currents.

The problem is that there are actually not that many fish left in the sea. Now I’m talking about real fish, not partners. Since 1970 we have experienced a decline in marine species populations by 49%. 29% of all fish stocks are overfished and 61% are fully fished. Some estimates show that in 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our seas.

The ambition was to conclude the EGA this weekend. We failed. A lot of finger pointing is taking place right now, as usual after negotiations stall, but trying to assign blame is not really meaningful. In trade negotiations defensive interests are usually the most difficult obstacles to get past. Even in an agreement like the EGA where the gains for all are so obvious, we could not avoid getting stuck on a few defensive positions.

In Nairobi Ministers explicitly instructed WTOs Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (CRTA) to take the lead in such a discussion. As the current chair of the CRTA I certainly will give it a go. There is an elephant in the room and it’s pretty big. It is time we start talking about it.

New IT trade agreement finalised

On Wednesday night 16th December news went out that the negotiations on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA2) were finally finalised. The key figures are repeated again and again, as well they should, because they are indeed impressive. Read the blog post from Daniel Blockert, our ambassador to the WTO.

2015 has been a year of ministerial conferences. As the ministers at the COP21 conference in Paris are getting ready for the final part of their negotiations, a large number of other ministers, and their delegations, are heading to Nairobi for WTO:s tenth ministerial conference (MC10).

Globalisation is not a new concept when it comes to analysing trade patterns. But during the last decade or so research has shown that globalisation is in many ways both deeper and wider than we used to believe, at least when it comes to trade.

When Kazakhstan now is ready to join the WTO an ancient trading nation is ready to once again be an important global trading partner.