During his interventions at the summit, the Director-General addressed the rapid changes that we are seeing in the global economy and how this relates to trade and the WTO. He said:
“The forces of globalization, innovation and technological change are driving huge changes in our economies. These changes raise important adjustment challenges as they have an impact on the overall structure of employment. Developing effective policies to support people to adjust and to gain new skills is essential. But while we respond to the challenges created by economic change, we must also seek to embrace the opportunities – and that means continuing to embrace trade. Actually, the benefits of trade are significantly undersold at present – many people don’t realize its positive effects. Our world is more interconnected than ever before, and therefore cooperation among nations on economic matters is ever more essential.
“This is one reason why there is a huge interest in the WTO’s work at the moment. At our 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December, we saw tremendous political support for the organization, and we saw a desire among many members to respond to the rapid economic changes that we are seeing and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit. For example, along with advancing longstanding issues such as the elimination of agricultural subsidies, market access and services, members are also discussing how to address issues linked to today's fast changing economic environment, including leveraging e-commerce as a force for development and how to make trade more inclusive by helping small businesses to participate. It will be interesting to see how these conversations develop. Clearly, as the pace of change continues to grow, we must ensure that the trading system can continue supporting jobs, growth and development around the world.”