Thank you all for kindly inviting me to this APEC Geneva Caucus.
On behalf of Director-General Azevêdo, I am pleased to welcome Chile's Vice Minister for Trade, Mr Rodrigo Yañez, to the house of global trade.
I am happy to congratulate Chile's government for hosting APEC in 2019. This will be an important year for Chile, but also for the WTO, as the membership will gradually gear up preparations for MC12 in Kazakhstan in June 2020.
There is no question that this is a crucial period in global trade. We face important challenges but also a unique opportunity to renew the trading system. Momentum is building towards strengthening and improving the work of the WTO, and it is important that all members help advance that discussion.
2019 will also be marked by efforts of WTO members on fisheries subsidies, as negotiations will intensify to meet the end-of-year target for an agreement.
This new year will also see members continuing to explore new, creative ways to move forward. In a number of areas, including e-commerce and investment facilitation, groups of WTO members will intensify discussions under the 'joint initiatives'. While we still have to see how these initiatives will develop, there is momentum among participants. More traditional areas, like agriculture and services, could also be advanced in 2019 through constructive discussions.
In that context, the synergies between APEC and the WTO will be paramount. APEC members have long been champions of the global trading system. Your leadership in the WTO will be needed more than ever to enrich the debate, build convergence and, ultimately, help to renew and reinforce the trading system.