World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said European Union leadership will be more important than ever in supporting the rules-based multilateral trading system.
In an address at a meeting of EU trade ministers in Malta on March 2, 2017, Azevêdo said: “The WTO and the EU have a long history of collaboration — and I welcome this continued support for trade and the WTO. Clearly we are in uncertain times. Slow global growth is still a concern and we don’t expect to see dramatic changes in this scenario in the near future. Moreover, there are signs of distrust in global trade.
“I think we need to respond to this situation in a number of ways. Action must start at the domestic level, to improve the situation in the labour market and provide support to those who have lost out. Some European countries have employed particularly successful policies in this area. At the global level, I think we must work harder to ensure that the benefits of trade reach more people, especially in the most vulnerable countries. The WTO’s Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December will be an opportunity to advance this work.
“In addition, I think we need to do more to raise our voices and make the case for trade. My voice alone is not enough. At times like this, the EU and others who value the rules-based multilateral trading system have an important role to play. We cannot take the multilateral trading system for granted — we need to speak up for the value we see in trade and the trading system. Of course trade is not a magic bullet, or a panacea, but it is a fundamental ingredient for any strategy aiming at sustainable social and economic development.”
The Director-General also gave the ministers an overview of ongoing discussions in Geneva ahead of the forthcoming Ministerial Conference. – WTO