Ávarp utanríkisráðherra á tólfta ráðherrafundi Alþjóðaviðskiptastofnunarinnar (WTO) í Genf 12. júní 2022.
We would also like to thank the Chairman of the General Council, the Director-General and her staff for their hard work in preparing this meeting under challenging circumstances.
The global trading system is not immune to the broader challenges facing us today. Russia’s unprovoked and illegal aggression against Ukraine is an affront to the rules-based international order that underpins this organisation. We are appalled by the devastating and indiscriminate attacks on Ukraine’s population and civilian infrastructure Russia alone is responsible for this crisis, and we underline our resolve to impose severe economic and financial consequences on Russia.
The disruption in trade will result in price increases and maybe some narrowing of consumer choices in the rich part of the world. These effects are not insignificant, but pale in comparison with how they manifest in the poorer parts of the world, with food shortages leading to life threatening situations and the potential for serious societal unrest.
It is through trade that the world will be able to minimize the damage and suffering brought on by this crisis.
To mitigate the impact of Russia’s actions, we call on all WTO members to refrain from imposing export restrictions; to keep their supply chains open and to ensure the flow of critical food stuffs to where they are needed most. At the same time, food insecurity remains particularly challenging for women and girls and Iceland will continue to use its voice to champion the benefits of women’s economic empowerment and trade in the WTO.
Climate change and related environmental challenges must also feature prominently on the WTO’s trade agenda. We now have an opportunity – after more than 20 years of negotiations – to fulfil our SDG commitment and ban harmful fisheries subsidies. While Iceland would have liked to see a more ambitious outcome, we urge all members to conclude an agreement based on the Chair’s proposal.
Despite the challenges, I believe strongly in the values and importance of the rules-based international trading system and the WTO. Iceland, for its part, will continue to work in good faith to achieve a balanced outcome and chart a course forward that meets the trade challenges of our time.