WTO NEWS: SPEECHES — DG PASCAL LAMY

“Seeking Answers to Global Trade Challenges”

Opening address by President Laura Chinchilla Miranda of Costa Rica

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Your Excellency, President Laura Chinchilla,
Your Excellency, President Mahamadou Issoufou,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to inaugurate the WTO Public Forum of 2011 — our annual rendez-vous with civil society and the public. This year’s Forum is entitled Seeking Answers to Global Trade Challenges. I must express my joy at your presence in this year’s Forum in such large numbers. Nearly 1500 participants have registered this year from all spectrums of society. 

The vast majority of you are from Non-Governmental Organizations (about 300 of you to be precise), from academia, and from business. But other international organizations are present too, and so are many parliamentarians, and journalists. The very rich three day programme that we have before us, and which you yourselves have mounted in reflection of your concerns, stands as testimony to the continued relevance of the WTO to today’s world. Your sessions span topics as diverse as trade and climate change, new patterns of world trade, trade and health, and regionalism. The programme reflects your sense of “ownership” (if I may say so) of the multilateral trading system, a sense which the WTO Secretariat and members will be doing everything to reinforce in the coming three days.

The world is going through a turbulent period. We are witnessing a food crisis. The economies in many parts of the world are not growing at a pace sufficient to achieve the fiscal consolidation needed after the measures taken during the financial crisis. In other parts of the world the pace of growth is raising concerns about its ecological and social sustainability. Unemployment remains far too high and its painful consequences are fuelling isolationist tendencies. We are seeing regime changes in many parts of the Arab world.

This is the background for this year’s Public Forum. A world in need of a compass. A world in need of more and better global co-operation.

And the WTO is not immune to this. The multilateral trading system has gone through its most serious stress test since its creation. And it has successfully helped countries navigate during the worst of the recent economic crisis. But resisting cannot be enough. We need to build a stronger global trading system to face the challenge ahead of us. And to build it we need to have a shared sense of objectives and direction. And this is where this Public Forum has a crucial role to play.

Ladies and gentlemen, Her Excellency President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica will be delivering today’s opening address. Representing one of the most open nations in the world, one that has successfully used trade as an engine for growth. One that has found the answer is opening to the world. And one that aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral economy, Mrs President I am certain that the audience is looking forward to your address just as much as I am. The floor is yours.

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