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EU Trade Ministers’ Consultations: WTO Suspends Conference Indefinitely Over New COVID-19 Variant

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has announced the postponement a major conference scheduled for next week in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WTO Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, made the announcement on Friday night.

The conference, EU trade ministers’ consultations, was postponed indefinitely.

This is amid the imposition of new travel restrictions by world leaders due to a new and particularly transmissible variant of COVID-19.

Switzerland has place suspension on passenger flights from seven southern African countries to curb the potentially more dangerous coronavirus strain.

Trade ministers had made arrangements for negotiation on various pressing issues, as well as modify vaccine patents, eradicating harmful fisheries subsidies and WTO reforms.

This delay makes it the second time the meeting has been postponed because of the pandemic, as it was originally scheduled for June 2020.

“It is better to err on the side of caution,’’ Okonjo-Iweala said.

“Many still wanted to attend in person and would have been disadvantaged by the new restrictions.”

The conference was scheduled to last until Dec. 3. The conference was planned to hold both physically and virtually, with attendees able to come to Geneva or join online.

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