Wars and elections complicate deal-making ahead of Abu Dhabi meeting

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(Corrects to remove word “Embargo” from headline)

GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the World Trade Organization warned on Friday that it could be difficult to strike deals at a major ministerial meeting later this month amid a “tough environment”, citing elections, recessions and wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Trade ministers gather for a meeting in Abu Dhabi from Feb. 26-29 where they will try to broker global trade agreements, including on reforming the 29-year-old body’s hobbled dispute system and cutting fishing subsidies.

“It’s going to be a bit tough because the conference is taking place at a difficult conjuncture. We are sailing against the wind,” WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters in Geneva, describing negotiating positions as far apart. “We are facing a lot headwinds, economic and political headwinds. You will understand it’s not going to be easy.”

However, she said she felt she thought some outcomes were still possible which might include the second part of a deal on cutting subsidies for fishing that are emptying the world’s oceans and a road map for agriculture talks.

(Reporting by Emma Farge, Editing by Rachel More)

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