WTO Sends Message For UNCTAD XIII
30 March 2012
"I hope that the UNCTAD XIII conference which takes place in Doha in 2012 will provide a timely opportunity to strengthen multilateralism" were the words of Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization in a message sent for UNCTAD XIII.
Noting that the world is going through a period of uncertainty as global economic recovery is being confronted by many challenges, Mr. Lamy wrote: "We have moved from a financial crisis to a growth crisis. Many economies are not growing at a pace sufficient to reduce socially destructive high unemployment and to achieve the fiscal consolidation needed after the extraordinary measures taken during the 2008-2009 financial crisis."
Growth in international trade in 2010 was led by faster export growth of developing economies, particularly strong growth in South-South trading during the first half of 2010, he noted. Developing countries were of course largely innocent casualties of the crisis, but it was the resilience in economic activity in many of these countries which led the world to recovery. This is manifested in some of the trade statistics, including the record-level increase in world trade volume of 14.5% in 2010. Exports and imports of developing countries rose above their pre-crisis highs by July 2010.
Mr. Lamy feels that the geographical fragmentation of the value chain is leading to a structural change in international trade. "The multilateral trading system of the future will also have to take better account of the growing importance of global value chains" said Mr. Lamy. "Global value chains also require taking a closer look at behind-the-border rules and regulations," he added, and "as tariffs are gradually reduced, divergences in domestic regulatory frameworks may require greater attention."
The multilateral trading system of the future will need to take into consideration the continued challenges being faced by developing countries, particularly least developed ones, according to Mr. Lamy. He stressed that the challenge of assisting developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to build their trade and productive capacities should continue to be a priority as it is today. He added that "global initiatives and partnerships such as Aid for Trade ... in which the WTO and UNCTAD are partners, will still be relevant and central to the trade policy strategies of developing countries and should therefore enjoy continued support."
The WTO Director General emphasised the need for multilateral action as the only means of tackling global challenges. He highlighted three elements which require greater attention to achieve this: political leadership, pragmatism and a spirit of compromise, as well as a spirit of realism.
Mr. Lamy will be attending UNCTAD XIII in Doha, specifically as a panellist on the High-Level Round Table on "Strengthening all forms of cooperation and partnerships for trade and development" on 24 April, and the Panel Discussion the same day on "Reflections on the international trading system and inclusive development."
Deputy Director-General Valentine Rugwabiza will represent the WTO at the special session of African Trade Ministers to be convened with the African Union (AU) on 20 April and at the High-Level Round Table on promoting investment, trade, entrepreneurship and related development policies to be held on 22 April.
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