Focus on the Global South, Third World Network and BRICS Feminist Watch  co-organized a webinar on the “2021 WTO Ministerial: Perspective from BRICS Countries” on Wednesday, 20 October 2021. The webinar was organized as part of the The People’s Forum on BRICS, a five-day online event bringing together civil society organisations, people’s movements and activists from across BRICS countries to highlight the need to counter neo liberal economic systems, continuing the fight against autocratic regimes and strengthening people to people solidarity,  

This webinar focused on the upcoming 12th WTO Ministerial Meeting to be held in Geneva from 30 November to 3 December 2021, which is considered crucial, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic which has exposed once again the frailties and inability of the current model of corporate led free trade and development to respond to the needs of the people and the planet. This webinar discussed the key challenges facing the ministerial from twin perspectives: from the viewpoint of southern countries and a people’s articulation on global trade and investment, especially from a gender lens.

Speaking at the session were Ranja Sengupta from Third World Network, Graciela Rodriguez from Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples (REBRIP), and Susana Barria from Public Services International (PSI) Asia Pacific. 

The speakers highlighted the key issues and key WTO negotiations from the viewpoint of each country. Benny Kuruvilla from Focus on the Global South moderated the session, starting with the notion that WTO is in a deep crisis and that the ongoing pandemic has exposed the fallacy of the trade model it stood for. 

Ranja Sengupta addressed the power imbalance between developed country and developing country, which became clearer during COVID-19 situation. Susana Barria highlighted the issue of vaccine apartheid and lack of technology transfer, urging the need for WTO TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccines to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. Graciela Rodriguez, while explaining the situation in Brazil, also calls for civil society organizations of BRICS countries to have bigger articulation not only on national issues but to move as groups and should fight for better and fairer distributions amongst countries.

The speakers underlined that the current agenda at the WTO Ministerial was loaded against the developing world on almost all issues; from the TRIPS waiver proposal on vaccines, public stockholding, e-commerce, fisheries subsidies and developmental concerns such as special and differential treatment. The adoption of such a flawed agenda pushed by the developed countries would only deepen vaccine aparthied and compromise a possible pandemic recovery for the planet. 

22 webinars and 2 plenaries are being organised as part of the Peoples Forum on BRICS from 18-22 October 2021. More information can be found at    

If you missed the webinar or want to revisit, the webinar will be uploaded on Focus on the Global South Facebook page (

For more information

Anisa Widyasari[email protected] (+66 988614414)

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