President Bachelet noted that Chile has one of the most trade-oriented economies in the world, with foreign trade accounting for 62 per cent of gross domestic product. Chile is also party to 64 trade agreements with countries accounting for more than 83% of global GDP.
“Trade opening and economic growth have been accompanied by public policies designed to improve the well-being of our citizens,” President Bachelet said. “These policies could not have been financed without dynamic international trade, protected by trade agreements and WTO rules.”
President Bachelet also said that global value chains and the incorporation of new actors into international trade, combined with a degree of competitiveness that did not exist a few years ago, all require the WTO to reshape its outlook. New rules will be required to successfully address the new challenges.
“Today we must innovate as we bring the rules into line with a 21st century economy,” she declared. “We must defend multilateralism in all areas because it guarantees equity, fair play, peace, democracy, human rights and cooperation among different peoples and cultures.”
In his welcoming statement, DG Azevêdo said that Chile is well known for its openness and internationalism.
“Chile has dedicated itself to cooperation through a wide variety of international bodies, and the World Trade Organization is no exception,” he said. “Chile joined the multilateral trading system at the outset of the GATT 70 years ago and it was a founding member of the WTO in 1995.”
“Today Chile is an active member and a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system,” he continued. “So it is a great honour to welcome President Bachelet to the WTO.
DG Azevêdo noted that Chile and other WTO members are increasingly confronted with a climate of slow global economic growth, combined with persistent poverty and inequality.
“In the face of such challenges, we must seek to build a more inclusive trading system,” he declared. “That means working harder to ensure that the benefits of trade reach further and wider.”
“In times of slow growth, we must resist the temptation to erect new economic barriers,” DG Azevêdo continued. “We should seek to cooperate and collaborate more, not less … So we should keep working to strengthen and improve the system to ensure that it is more responsive to members’ needs. The WTO ministerial conference in Buenos Aires this December will be a significant opportunity to make progress on this front.”
The text of DG Azevêdo’s speech can be found here.