DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL ANABEL GONZÁLEZ
Noting that international trade has been remarkably robust despite continuous shocks, not least the war in Ukraine, stubborn inflation and supply chain disruptions, DDG González said that “trade has played a key role in supporting economic recovery and averting shortages by bringing food and other critical supplies to where they are needed.”
“Globalization is not going away, but it is changing,” she said, adding that “businesses will need to adapt to a world of geopolitical tensions, heightened trade policy uncertainty and possibly an increasingly fragmented global economy.”
Noting the importance of reforming the WTO to safeguard rules-based trade and promote deeper trade cooperation, DDG González highlighted efforts to restore the WTO dispute settlement system. “Delivering a well-functioning dispute settlement system is an absolute priority because in a system where rules cannot be enforced, predictability suffers and it becomes harder to negotiate new rules,” she said.
DDG González called on the business community to step up its support for trade facilitation initiatives around the world. “By working together on making trade easier, faster and less costly, we can bring trade opportunities to more communities and more small- and women-owned businesses,” she said.
DDG González noted that several groups of WTO members are spearheading initiatives to respond to the way businesses trade in the 21st century. “The latest example is an agreement to cut red tape and increase transparency that will save services firms some US$ 150 billion in global trade costs annually,” she said.
“Several more deliverables are in the pipeline,” DDG González said, adding that “later this year, a group of more than two-thirds of WTO members intends to wrap-up negotiations on a set of global best practices to mobilize domestic and foreign investment.”
“A large group of WTO members is deep into digital trade negotiations that seek to deliver baseline standards and rules to promote greater cross-border interoperability, strengthen trust in digital markets and help narrow digital divides,” she said.
DDG González called on businesses to turn their net-zero ambition into action. “The WTO can be your strong ally in going green,” she said, adding that “cooperation at the WTO can promote greater coherence across climate standards, enable clean and circular business models and coordinate efforts to fight plastic pollution.”
“The WTO matters, especially in times of crisis,” DDG González said. “I call on business leaders to make the case that reforming, improving and modernizing the WTO is worth the effort,” she concluded.