The Director-General said:
“Speaking frankly, global trade is not in good shape today. 2016 is likely to be the fifth consecutive year of trade growth below 3%. With the exception of the immediate slump after the financial crisis, this is the weakest sustained level of trade growth for 30 years. In light of this, the G20 has a pivotal role to play in strengthening the trading system, in exploring ways to boost trade growth, and in resisting trade-restrictive policies and anti-trade sentiment.
“The WTO offers an avenue to take action on these points, and despite this negative backdrop, the atmosphere at the WTO is more positive than I can remember. We are now building on a record of success at the last two WTO ministerial conferences — and this is changing the game in Geneva. There has been a marked shift in engagement and positivity, and there is a clear view that we need to keep on delivering.
“We have had a very productive first half of the year with WTO members exploring a range of areas. The challenge now is to move from these more general conversations towards a more concrete, proposal-driven process. I am urging delegations in Geneva to be ready to engage in this way in the months ahead. The commitment of the G20 economies to these discussions will be vital. Political backing at the ministerial level is essential — now and throughout discussions in Geneva. As we move towards the next WTO ministerial conference in 2017, more frequent engagement at this level will become increasingly important.”
G20 trade ministers issued a statement after the meeting, which is available here.