WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

11 June 2002

WTO membership and trade liberalization fosters prosperity, stability and peace, says Director-General at WTO Ministerial Trade Conference for Central and South East Europe

The WTO Secretariat in conjunction with the Government of Croatia has, for the first time organized a WTO Ministerial Trade Conference for Central and South East Europe in Zagreb, Croatia.
The Conference was opened today by WTO Director-General Mr. Mike Moore and will run until 12 June 2002.

“This Conference is overdue,” said Mr. Moore. “Several countries from this region have been WTO Members for some time. Others have either recently joined the WTO or are in the process of joining. Their 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 their further integration into the multilateral trading system. Greater integration will be beneficial for the system and for all Members”.

“WTO membership and trade liberalization can help foster prosperity, stability and peace. Trade liberalization creates jobs and growth, and people who profit from trading with each other develop and build stability. 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,” Mr. Moore said.

Mr. Moore urged all key stakeholders, multilateral agencies, regional banks and bodies, as well as bilateral donors, to play their part in assisting countries of the region to further integrate into the trading system and prepare for Doha Development Agenda negotiations.

The Conference provides Ministers from the region with a unique opportunity to consider critical issues relating to their countries' participation in the multilateral trading system. Over the next two days, participants will be discussing some of the most critical issues facing the multilateral trading system: technical cooperation; accession; issues emerging from Doha; regionalism; and challenges and opportunities for trade and investment.

Ministers and high-level officials from 18 countries, Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey are scheduled to participate. Also invited are representatives from the following multilateral agencies, regional banks and bodies, non-governmental organizations and bilateral donors: the United States and the Commission of the European Union, the diplomatic corps, representatives from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Trade Centre, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Chamber of Commerce, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Stability Pact, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Joint Vienna Institute, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Soros Foundation and World Economic Forum.

> Full text of Mr. Moore's statement