The WTO concluded two days of informal meetings in Sydney on November 15.
The mini-summit of 25 trade ministers was intended to prepare the way for next year's ministerial meetings in Cancun, Mexico. Trade ministers announced they had made progress towards a deal on providing affordable medicines to poor countries. Under the compromise, developed countries have agreed to amend the TRIPS Agreement to allow imports of generic drugs to treat HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis. In addition, developed countries have suggested they will allow the provision to be extended to other serious public health problems.
Farm trade reform, one of the principal issues facing WTO members, took a back seat to the issue of medicines during the mini-summit.
WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi called on small nations to stay focused on freeing up global trade, responding to recent moves by the U.S. and China to negotatiate preferential bilateral and regional trade agreements.
The Indian representative to the meetings cautioned that WTO must not move away from the core of the Doha Declaration, which is essentially trade and development-based. Extraneous issues such as labour and environment should be postponed for the time being.