Sus Excelencias Los Presidentes del Senado y de la Cámara de Diputados de Argentina,
Señora Presidenta de la UIP,
Señora Vicepresidenta del Parlamento Europeo,
Honorables Copresidentes de la Conferencia Parlamentaria,
Sus Excelencias Ministros Faurie y Malcorra,
Embajador Karim,
Honorables diputados,
Damas y caballeros,

Buenas tardes.

Me complace unirme a ustedes hoy.

Me gustaría dar las gracias a la Unión Interparlamentaria y al Parlamento Europeo por la amable invitación y a nuestros anfitriones de hoy, el Congreso argentino.

Thank you all for being here – and for your interest in the work of the WTO.

There is a real sense of energy around the 11th Ministerial Conference. The agenda is packed. I hope you will understand that I can't be with you for very long this afternoon – but I wanted to make sure I could join you, even if for just a couple of minutes.

So I will say a few words to set the scene before handing over to Deputy Director-General Karl Brauner for a more interactive exchange.

At the outset, let me express my gratitude for your support and your engagement.

As parliamentarians, you play a crucial role in our work.

You support us through debating, approving and ratifying WTO agreements, and through the pressure that you apply to your governments to engage on the key issues.

And, of course, you help to connect the WTO as an organization to the people that we all serve – your constituents.

You play a fundamental role here. We rely on you, through platforms like this, to pass on the cares and concerns of your communities. And we rely on you to help inform them about the work of the WTO.

This is a very important link. It helps to ensure inclusivity in the global trading system, so that we can ensure that the benefits of trade reach further and wider. 

This is extremely important in the current context.

It's clear that many people feel disconnected from economic progress. We have seen a backlash against globalization.

In this debate, trade is often singled out as a disruptive force in labour markets. While trade does have an effect, technology is actually the major force driving change and disruption in economies everywhere.

Both are essential forces for growth and development. So we need to see trade and technology as solutions to the problems before us.

Strengthening the multilateral trading system, and ensuring that it is responsive to the needs of its members, is an essential part of these efforts.

And we have a good basis on which to build.

At our last two Ministerial Conferences we have delivered a series of major agreements, including:

  • the Trade Facilitation Agreement,
  • the elimination of agricultural export subsidies,
  • the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement, and
  • a series of decisions for least-developed countries.

Together, these measures constitute the biggest trade reforms for a generation.

Besides their economic significance, they also showed that WTO members can work together to solve the complex problems that they face.

Moreover, we know that the trading system acts as a guarantor of economic stability and peaceful relations between nations.

We saw this in 2008. The financial crisis sparked fears that we would see a damaging wave of protectionism, as we did in the 1930s. But this didn't happen. The system held firm. Trade kept flowing.

Members knew that they were bound by the same framework of rules and practices – and so they showed restraint.

As a result, the share of world imports affected by trade-restrictive policies since October 2008 is just 5%.

This showed that the system is essential – and that we have to keep working to preserve and strengthen it.

We have built up a strong momentum behind the WTO. 

The successes of recent years have put us on a positive path. Now we must continue this journey here in Buenos Aires.

There is a wide range of issues on the table, which ministers will be discussing over the coming days.

This is a chance to make progress where we can, and set the direction for our future work.

Strengthening the multilateral trading system requires constant and ongoing work. So I urge you to remain engaged.

Working together, we can ensure that the trading system continues to support economic stability, growth, development and job creation around the world.

Thank you for listening. I wish you a very productive meeting today.




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