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> Supachai Panitchpakdi’s speeches
remarks by the General Council Chairman
by the IMF
by the World Bank President
on General Council
I first want to welcome Rodrigo de Rato and Jim Wolfensohn, and to express
my sincere gratitude for your friendship, leadership and advice. This is the
second year in a row that the heads of the IMF and the World Bank have
travelled to Geneva to attend a WTO meeting on Coherence. Your presence
sends a powerful message, not just about the importance of coherence among
our institutions, but about your commitment to the multilateral trading
system and the success of the Doha negotiations.
I think we can all agree that these negotiations are one of the most
important issues on the global economic agenda. As was emphasised at the
recent Bank/Fund Annual Meetings, the current economic recovery is broad but
fragile. We have a window of opportunity to deepen structural reforms,
strengthen global markets, and ensure that the current expansion is
sustainable. Nothing would contribute more to its sustainability than
further opening world markets and strengthening trade rules under the Doha
The outlook for the WTO has changed significantly since the summer. The July
General Council Decision has put the Doha negotiations back on track, and
eased many of the concerns we felt in the aftermath of Cancún. It represents
an important step forward in the Round — and has injected new momentum into
the Geneva process — but it is not an end in itself. This Round will be
judged, not by what we say today, but by what we achieve at the end of the
negotiations. Success — as the IMFC communiqué reminds us – “will require
the full commitment of all parties, in particular strong leadership from the
major trading nations, and readiness of all countries to embrace the
opportunities provided by more open trade”.
Cooperation among the three major international economic institutions has
never been more critical. At the last Coherence meeting, Members encouraged
us to focus our cooperation on three areas in particular — policy analysis
and advice, technical assistance, and adjustment assistance. Let me
highlight three concrete areas where progress is being made — the details of
which can be found in the background document for this meeting.
First, the Trade Integration Mechanism. Last May, Anne Krueger briefed us on
this new IMF policy, and explained that financial assistance would be
available to low income developing countries to help them cope with
adjustment difficulties arising from loss of trade preferences in the Doha
Round, as well as from the elimination of textile quotas at the start of
next year. The task now is for the Secretariat to continue working closely
with IMF staff to help WTO Members to evaluate the opportunities presented
by the Trade Integration Mechanism.
Second, the Cotton Initiative. The July Decision explicitly calls on the WTO
to work closely with the IMF, the World Bank, and other international
financial institutions on development aspects of the Sectoral Cotton
Initiative. Let me use this opportunity to ask my friends, Rodrigo and Jim,
to redouble their efforts to see how existing programmes — as well as
additional resources — can be directed towards development in those
economies where cotton is vitally important, as we agreed in Cotonou.
Third, Trade Facilitation. The July Decision also invites the IMF and the
World Bank to cooperate with the WTO to make technical assistance and
capacity building more effective and operational in support of the
negotiations on trade facilitation, which were launched this summer. The
World Bank, in particular, has done excellent work in examining the costs of
excessive red-tape for developing countries trying to encourage trade and
investment — and I think this is an area where there is huge potential for
synergies among our institutions.
I have mentioned three areas where the WTO is looking for — and receiving —
tangible support from the Bank and the Fund. Let me also draw your attention
to an area where the IMF and the World Bank are looking for support from the
General Council. A positive response by the WTO to requests for observer
status in the TNC and its subsidiary bodies would give the IMF and the World
Bank first-hand information on where their contribution to the success of
the Doha negotiations can most usefully be made. Already they contribute
actively to the work of many councils, committees and working groups of the
WTO. Extending their observer status to the TNC would be a logical step —
and would certainly add to the level of coherence of our work, in particular
to lend full support to the DDA.
I want to conclude with the observation that these General Council Meetings
on Coherence are obviously increasingly important — as underscored by the
presence of Rodrigo de Rato and Jim Wolfensohn today. But there is also
growing value in having on-going work on Coherence at the technical level in
the Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance. Two Coherence issues — trade
financing and exchange rate volatility — have already been usefully taken up
at a technical level in the Group. I also note that Coherence is on the
agenda for the Group's December meeting. As we begin today's discussions, I
encourage Members to think about how we can build further on this progress.
IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, World Bank President James D.
Wolfensohn and WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi listen to the
General Council debate on coherence in global economic policy-making.