membership and trade liberalization fosters prosperity, stability and
peace, says Director-General at WTO Ministerial Trade Conference for
Central and South East Europe
is my great pleasure to open this WTO Ministerial Trade Conference for
Central and South East Europe. My sincere gratitude goes to the
Government of Croatia for hosting this important event. This
Conference is an opportunity for Member and non-Member countries, and
participating agencies, to exchange information and share ideas on how
we can work together for the advancement of the region. It will help
us to learn directly from you how we can better assist your countries
to participate successfully in the multilateral trading system. It
will also help us to identify ways to support your countries’
preparations for, and participation in, the current WTO negotiating
the next two days, we will be discussing some of the most critical
issues facing the multilateral trading system: technical cooperation;
accession; new issues emerging from Doha; regionalism; and challenges
and opportunities for trade and investment. Never before has the WTO
Secretariat organized a high-level Conference of this kind in Central
and South East Europe. This Conference is a start and we will do more.
Several countries from this region have been WTO Members for some
time. Others have either only recently joined the WTO or are still in
the process of joining. Your concerns and interests differ from
country to country but there are also areas of significant
commonality. In all cases, there is much that could and needs to be
done to assist countries to further integrate into the multilateral
trading system. This will be beneficial for the system and for all
a successful market economy in transition economies is a daunting
challenge. But it can be done. WTO membership and trade liberalization
can help to foster prosperity, stability and peace. Trade
liberalization creates jobs and growth, and people who profit from
trading with each other develop and build stability and understanding.
WTO membership, or the prospect of it, can help lock in liberal
economic reforms and a commitment to the rule of law. WTO's dispute
settlement system provides a vital safety valve for countries to
settle their trade disputes without recourse to force. Thus, trade
liberalization, commitment to the rule of law and the peaceful
settlement of disputes through a multilateral forum such as the WTO
are all ingredients for building a climate of stability. I am glad
that transition economies are playing a positive and constructive role
in the multilateral trading system.
further your countries' integration into the multilateral trading
system, we need all key stakeholders to play their part. This is why
the WTO is here. It is for this reason too that I have made it an
important point to involve multilateral agencies, regional banks and
bodies, as well as bilateral donors, in the programme. I encourage
representatives from these organizations to participate actively in
the dialogue. For many countries, keeping up the momentum for domestic
legislative and economic reforms, both before and after joining the
WTO, will require considerable efforts to develop human and
institutional capacity and expertise.
and my staff are here to learn and to work with you to identify
opportunities for providing assistance in partnership with other
agencies. Over the next two days, I will be seeking your guidance and
wisdom. With that in mind, may I invite you to keep in focus, as we
discuss various issues, the following sorts of questions :
are your countries' needs vis-à-vis WTO's current and future work
can we help you to address these needs?
are the gaps?
more do we need to do, in partnership with multilateral and
regional agencies and banks, and donors, to help fill in these
to these questions will help us to find and fix gaps as we make
progress on the Doha Development Agenda. Discovering problems next
year will be too late.
assist us in our discussions over the next two days, let me touch on
some key aspects of the current WTO work programme. At the Doha
Ministerial Conference held last November, Members set an ambitious
deadline of 1 January 2005 for the completion of the current round of
trade negotiations. It is not a great deal of time, but Members have
been approaching their work with urgency and responsibility. We have
made excellent progress on matters of process:
Trade Negotiations Committee is established
structure of the negotiations is determined
of the negotiating bodies are in place
programmes of most of the bodies are finalized.
have agreed to hold the Fifth Ministerial Conference in Cancun,
Mexico from 10 to 14 September 2003.
have made equally good progress in other areas: Members have fully
supported our efforts on technical assistance; the Secretariat has
refocused priorities on the Doha Development Agenda; and we have also
run successful initiatives to engage more fully with civil society,
including a public symposium held last month with over 700
commentators suggested it would take many months, perhaps years, for
these decisions to be taken. That was the experience after the Uruguay
launch. However, our progress this time has been encouragingly swift,
so far. I believe we can conclude the round within the three-year
timeframe agreed by Ministers. But we must move the negotiations up a
the most part, the setting-up phase is over. Already deadlines are
looming. We have just 16 months until the Ministerial in Cancun.
After that we have little more than a year to bring the Round to
think we have made as good a start as could have been hoped for. But
our timeframes give no room for complacency. Nor should we mistake
progress on procedure for progress on substance. We will be discussing
in greater detail this afternoon some of the issues emerging from Doha
and the challenges ahead. From my Doha experience, I can tell you it
is vital that we keep Ministers fully informed and engaged in our
work. Your guidance, wisdom and flexibility will be needed at all
points in the negotiations. It is then up to the trade negotiators of
WTO Members to work with commitment and flexibility to realize the
enormous benefits offered by the multilateral trading system.
process of domestic reform that accompanies further integration into
the multilateral trading system will have wide-ranging economic,
political and social implications for economies in transition. Changes
of this kind require vision, courage and determination. They also
require the building of consensus among domestic interest groups to
sustain the changes, notwithstanding inevitable difficulties. The
benefits of being in the WTO need to be communicated effectively to
secure the support of key sectors of society. Businesspeople, for
example, need to be much more involved in our work and much more vocal
in their support for the trading system.
is the WTO and trade liberalization so vital to prosperity and
stability? What are the arguments that will convince and rally our
respective constituencies? There is no need to dwell on these thoughts
in such distinguished and experienced company, but I will give some
examples of what's at stake:
economic terms, cutting barriers to trade in agriculture,
manufacturing and services by a third would boost the world
economy by US$613 billion. That's like adding an economy the size
of Canada to the world economy.
all trade barriers could boost global income by $US2.8 trillion
and lift 320 million people out of poverty by 2015.
development terms, the elimination of all tariff and non-tariff
barriers could result in gains for developing countries in the
order of $182 billion in the services sector, $162 billion in
manufactures and $32 billion in agriculture.
agricultural subsidies in dollar terms are two-thirds of Africa's
total GDP. Abolishing these subsidies would return three times all
the ODA put together to developing countries. Kofi Annan wants $10
billion to fight Aids; that is just 12 days subsidies.
task — yours and mine — is to present these arguments to the
public and seek the additional horsepower that their support can give
to our trade negotiations. If these do not convince, we have an array
of additional arguments:
seven of the UN Millennium Development goals – in health,
education, poverty, etc – would require US $54 billion annually,
— just one third the estimate of developing country gains from
me share one example from a book I read recently. Mongolians and
Norwegians both paid the US about $23 million in tariffs last
year. But Mongolia exported $143 million and Norway
$5.2 billion, or 40 times as much. In effect, Mongolians paid
16 cents to sell the US a dollar's worth of sweaters and suits,
while the Norwegians paid half a cent for every dollar's worth of
gourmet smoke salmon, jet engine parts and North Sea crude.
those concerned about the environment, studies suggest there are
significant ecological benefits from removing fish subsidies.
course, countries need not wait until the conclusion of the Doha
Development Round to commence reforms or liberalize trade. For
instance, trade facilitation, according to APEC and UNCTAD studies,
will generate huge returns. Market access opportunities do not help if
trucks are held up at borders for days due to bureaucratic delays.
Domestic red-tape and bad governance, wherever it occurs, in developed
and developing countries or economies in transition, is costly and
Doha Development Agenda will define international trading relations
for the first part of this new century. We need to ensure that all
countries have the opportunity to benefit from the Doha Development
Agenda and to help shape the future of the multilateral trading
system. Our Conference today marks yet another important stage in the
integration of countries of this region into the multilateral trading
system. Beyond these few opening remarks, I welcome the opportunity to
explore with you specific challenges and opportunities faced by your
countries in the four working sessions in front of us.