Readout of Ambassador Tai’s Meetings on the First Day of the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference

February 26, 2024

ABU DHABI – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today participated in the first day of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13). Ambassador Tai participated in bilateral meetings with WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China Wang Wentao, and South African Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel.  Ambassador Tai also participated in the MC13 Opening Session and working session. Ambassador Tai was joined by Deputy United States Trade Representative María Pagán and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Doug McKalip.

While meeting with WTO Director-General Ngozi, Ambassador Tai and the Director-General shared their optimism going into MC13 and building on the success of MC12. Ambassador Tai also reaffirmed the United States' priorities for MC13, including restoring transparency, rebuilding the WTO to address today’s challenges, and dispute settlement reform. Ambassador Tai also emphasized the importance of a successful outcome for the second phase of the fisheries subsidies negotiations.

Ambassador Tai engaged in a robust discussion with Minister Wang, where she expressed the need for continued communication and collaboration between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) at the WTO in Geneva. Ambassador Tai also raised concerns regarding the PRC’s excess capacity of steel on the global market and the ongoing imbalances caused by China’s state-led, non-market approach to trade policy. Ambassador Tai and Minister Wang agreed to work on areas of shared cooperation, including their respective commitments to the WTO.

During her meeting with Minister Patel, Ambassador Tai highlighted the strengthened trade relationship between the U.S. and South Africa. Ambassador Tai and Minister Patel also exchanged views on the fisheries subsidies negotiations, e-commerce moratorium and dispute settlement reform. Ambassador Tai stressed the need for continued conversations on mutual areas of concern, including transparency in the WTO and multilateral agricultural trade reform.

Following her bilateral meetings, Ambassador Tai participated in Working Session 1: Ministerial Conversation on Trade and Sustainable Development, Including Trade and Industrial Policy and Policy Space for Industrial Development, where she emphasized that trade can be a positive force for sustainable development if used to empower workers, protect the environment, and promote fair competition.  Ambassador Tai also underlined the need for the WTO to address each of these areas to drive sustainable trade.

Ambassador Pagán led the U.S. delegation in participation during Working Session 2: Ministerial Conversation on Trade and Inclusion, where the delegation delivered Ambassador Tai’s prepared remarks, which shared how the United States is building an inclusive trade agenda by incorporating more diverse voices into the policymaking process and by taking a data-driven approach to understanding the distributional effects of trade on working communities.  The delegation also underscored how the WTO must focus on representing the interests of more people across societies.