The Director-General said:
“In all of my recent meetings, I have sensed a growing interest in our work, especially as the past two WTO Ministerial Conferences have shown our ability to deliver multilateral results. I have been encouraged by the calls I have heard to strengthen the WTO, resist protectionism and increase co-operation on trade issues. The G20 leaders were particularly vocal on this point.
“At the same time, there are also widespread concerns about the growth of anti-trade and anti-globalization sentiment. If this rhetoric is not countered effectively, and immediately, it could easily lead to the adoption of misguided policies which would worsen economic growth and job prospects. Of course these are the very problems that such policies claim to address.
“The revised trade growth forecasts which we published this week show a significant downgrade for this year. We expect to see an expansion of just 1.7% in 2016, which would be the lowest level of trade growth since the financial crisis. In the face of these challenges I think we need to put more vigour into our work here at the WTO.
“We need to continue delivering trade reforms that generate more inclusive growth and development gains. It is therefore important that we deepen our discussions about what members want to achieve between now and the 11th Ministerial Conference. I think we have made some progress in the first half of the year – and we need to keep up the momentum in all areas, including the long-standing issues.“I think the immediate priority now should be to deepen conversations between members to scope out the issues ahead of the 11th Ministerial. We should especially look for those balancing elements that take into account members' different interests and positions – elements that respond to the needs of developed, developing and least-developed members.”