Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), outlines how developing and least-developed countries can maximise the benefits of increased trade.
In the 20 years since the birth of the World Trade Organization, the world has seen huge changes. New centres of economic growth have emerged. New technologies have proliferated. Communication has been revolutionised. In 1995, less than 0.8 per cent of the world’s population used the internet, while in 2015 it is around 44 per cent.
Trade itself has been transformed over these two decades. Production chains have become increasingly international, offering new opportunities (and challenges) to countries aiming to participate in global trade flows. Trade has increasingly been seen as an important driver of development. The figures tell the story: since 1995, the developing countries’ share of global merchandise trade has grown from 27 per cent to over 43 per cent. However, it is important to recognise that the gains of increased trade are not automatic. Just providing more trading opportunities is not enough to ensure that people can take part in the trading system and access the potential benefits. A great deal of hard work is needed to ensure that the right enabling conditions are there.
The WTO has development at its heart – something we share with the Commonwealth – and so we want to extend the benefits of trade as far and as wide as possible. This means providing people with the skills and the resources that will allow them to compete in global markets. It also means lowering the entry costs which can stop people from trading in the first place. So we have identified some essential steps to make this happen…
*Statistics within article correct at original publication date of CHOGM 2015 Report.
Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO)