WTO Director-General optimistic for continued post-Bali progress

  • 9 May 2014
Trade facilitation

Chair of the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment policy and President and CEO of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joined World Trade Organization Director-General Roberto Azevedo on a panel of trade experts leading discussions on the future of trade.

James Bacchus, Chair of the ICC Commission on Trade and Investment policy and Peter Robinson, President and CEO of ICC’s US affiliate, the USCIB, joined Mr Azevedo at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2014 Forum.

Referring to the historic trade agreement reached at the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Bali last December, Mr Azevedo said: “We have to solve some of the problems we have at the multinational level at this time. Bali was a very, very important outcome not only economically but systemically. We have to prove it was not a fluke, that we can continue to negotiate and continue to deliver and I’m very optimistic that we can do that.”

Mr Bacchus said that lowering barriers to trade and investment worldwide can create the opportunity for shared and lasting prosperity for everyone, everywhere. “We need to be able to show that trade is moving forward and trade ought to be focusing on inclusive and sustainable growth.” Responding to a question on equity and jobs for workers, Mr Bacchus said that countries would have less where-with-all to resolve those issues in a sovereign capacity without the benefits that come from reduced barriers to trade and investment.”

“Business believes in the multilateral approach, especially in a world of global value chains,” said Mr Robinson. He emphasized that there was strong hope for quality bilateral and regional agreements to develop high standards of investment protection that could be translated back into the multilateral system.

“There is no single recipe for trade but whatever we discuss, we have to do away with simplistic explanations,” Mr Azevedo said. “Trade has to work for everyone and is a potential tool for development, for increasing productivity, for economic growth and for the creation of jobs, but it has to be coupled with other economic and social policies in domestic markets.”

Moderated by Shawn Donnan, World Trade Editor of the Financial Times, the panel session saw a lively debate on the future of trade and included discussions on non-tariff barriers and the role of settlement mechanisms for international trade disputes.

The full webcast of the OECD 2014 forum panel on the Future of Trade can be viewed in full on the event website.