Commonwealth countries Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan and Singapore have joined 38 other member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in a statement of support of the multilateral trading system
Commonwealth countries Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan and Singapore have joined 38 other member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in a statement of support of the multilateral trading system.
Their statement jointly underlined their continued support for the WTO and reaffirmed the importance of the rules-based multilateral trading system.
The multilateral trading system is a multinational arrangement that encourages trade without barriers across a range of sectors.
The statement of support came during the WTO’s biennial Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires on December 10-13, 2017.
The conference reinforced the importance of the multilateral trading system in promoting inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable trade and providing the necessary tools to tackle the challenges of current domestic and international trade, as well as taking full advantage of its opportunities.
Trade officials discussed a range of issues, including agriculture, domestic regulation of services, development, fisheries subsidies, and electronic commerce.
WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo, acknowledged the lost trust in multilateral trade and globalisation due to slow economic growth and the inequitable distribution of the benefits brought by economic progress.
He insisted, however, that the multilateral trading system has the capacity to protect against and withstand the tests to global prosperity.
He noted the 26 fold increase in global trade since the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, and the 1 billion people lifted out of poverty by the system in one generation.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the system prevented trade barriers being implemented during and after the financial and economic crisis in 2008, leading to less than 5% of world exports being affected by restricted measures and therefore helping to protect global economic progress.
The day before the conference, the WTO launched a new publication titled `Trade Multilateralism in the 21st Century: Building the Upper Floors of the Trading System through WTO Accessions’.
It examines how an updated multilateral framework could help revive world trade and maximise the benefits of international economic integration.
The Ministers’ statement of support read: “We, the Ministers from 44 developing and developed Members that are strongly supportive of the multilateral trading system, are concerned that the World Trade Organization is facing challenges.
“We reaffirm the principles and objectives set out in the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO and the centrality of the rules-based multilateral trading system.”
“We greatly value the WTO's framework of rules, which has helped to foster international trade and development, facilitate the peaceful settlement of trade disputes, and served as a bulwark against protectionism.
“This has contributed to the strength and stability of the global economy.”
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