Al inaugurar la séptima conferencia anual OMC/Banco Mundial/FMI sobre el comercio, celebrada en la sede de la OMC el 24 de junio, el Director General Roberto Azevêdo dijo que la investigación es fundamental para defender el sistema multilateral de comercio en un momento en que los Gobiernos reevalúan las políticas y surgen oportunidades para renovar la cooperación. El Director General dijo lo siguiente:
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the WTO and to this seventh Annual Trade Workshop.
It’s great to have you all here. It is always a pleasure to bring together trade experts from the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF. My thanks to the organizers and the presenters for making this event possible.
This is a very positive initiative. It is a great platform to share ongoing research projects, discuss current policy issues, and identify areas of future collaboration between our organizations.
The last time we hosted this event at the WTO was in June 2015. And the general mood in the trade debate was much different back then.
We had recently delivered the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the first multilateral deal in the history of the WTO. We were working hard to implement that deal and get the necessary ratifications for it to enter into force.
We were also advancing longstanding discussions at the WTO, paving the way for our Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. As you may know, that conference delivered the biggest reform in agriculture trade in the last two decades.
There was a renewed momentum in multilateral trade cooperation.
Today, we are faced with a very different landscape. Trade tensions are on the rise. Trade growth is declining. At the same time, the 4th industrial revolution and the after effects of the 2008 crisis are compelling governments to reassess their policies in a number of areas.
We have seen stresses from global imbalances, government interventions, and divergent views on the role of trade for economic development bring trade and trade policy back to the forefront of global policy debates.
All of this turbulence is reflected at the WTO. We face a wide range of challenges, both economic and systemic – which demand a response.
But I also believe that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to renew cooperation in global trade.
We are seeing a lot of activity at the WTO. Members are engaged in a debate about WTO reform to ensure that the organization can remain responsive to the challenges of today’s economy.
The most pressing issue remains the impasse in the dispute settlement mechanism, including the AB nominations.
On a more positive side, we are seeing a proliferation of ideas being put forward to improve our regular work. Some members are putting a significant focus on this area, looking particularly at how to improve transparency among the membership’s trade policies.
WTO members are also discussing how to make progress on a number of fronts. This includes some longstanding themes like agriculture and fisheries subsidies.
Groups of members have also launched so called “joint initiatives” to work on a number of other issues. They include: electronic commerce, small and medium enterprises, facilitation of investments, the economic empowerment of women, and domestic regulation in services.
Not all WTO members are part of these initiatives. But each of them already has more than 70 members and they are open to anyone who wants to join or simply participate in the discussions.
Members are seeing this as a way of ensuring the trading system is ready for the economy of the 21st century. The system needs to be more efficient, more effective and more responsive to today’s challenges. Of course, one way in which we can strengthen the system is by making the case for trade, with strong evidence and data. Economic research is vital here.
It helps to showcase why a rules-based trading system is essential for growth and development. It helps to highlight the ways trade brings concrete economic benefits to people. It also helps to showcase areas where trade is not playing its full part, thereby offering policymakers important food for thought. And of course we must also acknowledge the challenges that trade can bring – in the context of its broader benefits.
A balanced, informed debate is a fundamental condition for effective and responsive policymaking. Events like this can make a huge contribution to this conversation. They help us to be more coherent and consistent in economic policy making. They support a better understanding of the interactions between different policy areas. And I think that presenting work and sharing ideas in forums like this can spark new thinking in ways we simply can’t predict.
So I hope it will be a very fruitful day.
And in all our discussions, I think we should strive to keep this work relevant and ensure that it connects to the challenges we face in the global trade community.
For example, here at the WTO we are looking to improve the information we provide in services trade, which is becoming more and more important in the global economy.
We are also looking into ways to improve the way we monitor trade restrictive measures, going beyond the number of measures implemented and their trade coverage, but also looking at their scale and intensity.
Finally, as we seek to rise to the current challenges, the ongoing cooperation between our organizations is more important than ever.
Our three organisations are dedicated to creating a stronger and more stable global framework — so that people around the world can lead better and healthier lives.
In fact, later this week I will be sitting at the G20 Summit table alongside the heads of the IMF and the World Bank, discussing all these issues with the G20 leaders. I will be delivering a message about the importance of trade and the continued cooperation between our organizations in order to keep delivering economic benefits.
Also in the G20 context, our organizations are working together to keep members informed about recent developments in the trading system and the latest research findings.
Of course, the strength of the arguments we use depends on the necessary research, ideas and evidence — much of which comes from the brain power in this room.
Together, we have access to a tremendous pool of resources and expertise. So let’s put that into good use. Let’s keep this dialogue going. I wish you a very successful event and look forward to hearing from your discussions.