SENIOR Officials from OECS Member States have called upon the WTO to assist Small Island Developing States build economic resilience in the face of climate change-related hazards, including Category 5+ hurricanes and rising sea levels.
In a statement to the WTO General Council — the highest decision-making body of the World Trade Organization — the OECS highlighted the unique challenges faced by Small Island States impacted by climate change events and noted the negative impacts of such events on trade and development.
In response to the escalating climate change related risks, the OECS statement charged the world body responsible for setting and regulating international trade rules to find creative approaches that respond to climate change related vulnerabilities.
This OECS statement was delivered by High Commissioner Guy Mayers, who also serves as Saint Lucia’s Ambassador to the WTO.
OECS Member States pressed the WTO to provide Small Island Developing States with flexibilities in line with their vulnerability to environmental and climate change-induced risks.
The statement further urged the establishment of a matrix such as a “Vulnerability Index” that can be used to establish a baseline for greater flexibilities needed to respond to environmental hazards.
This call to the world trade body was made in response to the severe economic impact caused to OECS Member States by the 2017 hurricane season.
The Ambassador noted that beyond the catastrophic impacts that more intense storms have on the physical infrastructure of OECS Members States, these storms have devastating effects on the private sector.
Speaking after his presentation to the WTO, Mayers noted that the rules of the WTO have already failed OECS Member States on the issue of bananas and must now provide the necessary accommodations to small states that are at risk.
The Ambassador challenged the WTO to take concrete steps to address what is quickly becoming a survival issue for Small Island developing states.
The Saint Lucia envoy proposed that the WTO should create strong safeguards that can be triggered after a natural disaster that would provide sufficient policy space for recovery.
The WTO General Council met in Geneva on 12 December 2018 to discuss the challenges facing the international trading systems
The OECS Mission in Geneva supports Member States in integrating their positions into on-going trade negotiations.
The Mission is headed by Mr Stephen Fevrier.