WTO ministerial conference extended

Officials of the World Trade Organization say its ministerial conference being held in Geneva, Switzerland, will be extended by one day, until Thursday. Items on the agenda include food security and fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines and other medical supplies.

Officials say more time is needed for the participants to agree on a planned ministerial declaration.

Participants aim to work out a unified policy on food shortages and other issues triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and incorporate it into the declaration.

In the area of food security, ministers have been trying to agree that members will abide by WTO rules that keep them from imposing unnecessary restrictions on food exports.

But informed sources say countries including India have disputed the idea, and that adjustments are underway.

Talks are also continuing on creating rules to ensure fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, other drugs and medical equipment.

Ministers have also discussed rebuilding the WTO's Appellate Body, which is currently not functioning. The body has made final decisions on trade disputes.

In the previous ministerial meeting in 2017, a divide between advanced and developing countries prevented participants from reaching unanimous agreement.

The conference closed without issuing a ministerial declaration.