Multilateral trading system of the future will have to address a number of global challenges-WTO

Balkan Business News, September 08, 2011
World Trade Organizations Director-General Pascal Lamy, in his speech to CUTS in Delhi on 6 September 2011, said the multilateral trading system of the future will have to address a number of global challenges, including “the blurring of the edges between trade policy and others such as exchange rate policies, climate change policies, food security policies or energy policies”.

But he said the more pressing challenge is to advance the Doha Round: “to find the political courage and the pragmatic steps which will lead our Members to have an honest negotiation”. In an excerpt of his speech, Director-General Pascal Lamy said “Since 2001 the world has seen major transformations, whether in terms of WTO players, in terms of issues in the agenda or in geopolitical terms. And yet I do not think that the goals we set in Doha have become irrelevant.

Curbing fishery subsidies which contribute to overfishing, disciplining trade-distorting agriculture subsidies, eliminating export subsidies, reducing industrial tariffs, cutting red tape at customs, expanding opportunities for vibrant services sectors or better integrating least developed countries in the trading system can hardly be seen as irrelevant to today’s world. Nor do I think that these issues would disappear if we were to stop the talks and reboot. The answer in my view is to be found elsewhere. Where? Many arguments have been raised. I would like to flag three which, in my view, need urgent attention.

One, political leadership. Trade agreements need political leadership both at home and in Geneva. Trade agreements are struck by governments, not by wise men, think tanks or Director-Generals. Leaders must act to convince and spend political capital to make them happen. The time for technical work is long past. It is the hour of politics. Two, pragmatism and spirit of compromise.

There has to be give and take. There has to be flexibility, and perhaps the way we have been pursuing the Doha deal has been too rigid and with limitations that do not help the politics. Smaller steps that show demonstrable progress might inspire the confidence and trust to weave all topics into a final package And, three, there has to be a spirit of realism. Asking for the moon and using empty rhetoric is normal in any negotiation but we are now past that point. We must now seek realistic and creative solutions. To stand behind redlines waiting for others to move only breeds mistrust and stalls the negotiations, postponing benefits to the world economy.” Source; WTO

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