WTO: Global businesses, we need your help

World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Pascal Lamy has told a collection of global traders that the WTO cannot be taken for granted and needs businesses with real-world experience to help guide it in the rapidly changing trade environment.

Lamy told an International Chamber of Commerce conference in Oslo that, with the increasing globalisation of industries, the need for an effective global rules-based system also increases - as does the need for investment in it.

He said: “The WTO has now been in existence for 15 years, but of course, the multilateral trading system (since the days of the GATT) has been around much longer.  That system, however, cannot be taken for granted.

“The WTO's stakeholders need to guide and stand-up for the system that has served them so well. They need to keep investing in the system. Suffice it to see how the trading system, through its monitoring and surveillance capability, has succeeded in stemming the tide of trade protectionism during the economic crisis we have just been through.

“With our regular reporting on “any step backwards” that was taken by a WTO member, a sort of “name and shame” system if you will, the WTO succeeded in preventing a return to the 1930s like Smoot-Hawley Tariff Acts!”

“But for the multilateral trading system to continue to serve us well, and to respond to your new and changing needs, your involvement and guidance of that system is crucial.  In other words, it no longer suffices that you trade while relying on governments to craft the regulatory framework for you in the WTO through which your trade relations would take place.

“You must provide the “evidence,” through your trade experience, of what is actually happening on the ground, and must guide us in how to make things better.”

This year the WTO will be holding a public forum entitled Seeking Answers to Global Trade Challenges from 19-21 September.

The forum will provide an opportunity for traders to identify the principal trade challenges at the global level that impact on the multilateral trading system, and identify solutions to ensure the WTO effectively adapts and responds the demands of the fast-changing environment.

The discussion will encompass four core themes:

1. Food Security

2. Trade in Natural Resources

3. Made in the World and Value-Added Trade

4. What Next for the Trading System?

Director General of the World Trade Organization,
Pascal Lamy of France.

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