Mike Moore's speeches
Renato Ruggiero's speeches,
The crisis has
significantly affected world output. The IMF's World Economic Outlook forecasts a fall in
world growth from 4.1% in 1997 to 2% in 1998. Growth in the newly industrialized Asian
economies is expected to be negative, -2.9% in 1998; while GDP growth in the developing
world is expected to fall sharply from 5.8% in 1997 to 2.3% in 1998. Latin American
countries are expected to grow at only 2 and 2.5% , while those in Africa will grow at
around 3.5%. Countries in transition, including Russia, will experience a decline of
0.2 per cent; although those in central and eastern Europe are expected to grow by
The social costs of the crisis
are also significant. For example, according to the World Bank, unemployment in the
crisis-hit countries has risen sharply to about 13 million people in Indonesia, 3.5
million in Thailand, and 1.6 million in Korea, for a total of 18 million compared with 5.3
million in 1996. Real wages are also falling sharply, down some 40 to 60 per cent in
Indonesia and about 10 per cent in Thailand. Poverty is also on the rise with, for
example, about 17 million more people expected to fall below the poverty line in
in global output will also result in a decline in global trade in volumes from 10% in 1997
to 4% in 1998. Trade values are forecast to stagnate and perhaps to decline somewhat
because of the fall in the dollar prices of traded industrial goods and commodities. As
global economic activity weakens and regional cycles diverge, trade and current account
imbalances will increase. For example, the US current account deficit is forecast to
double from 1997 to 1999 from US$ 155 billion to US$290 billion while
Japan's surplus will increase by 50% - up to US$ 135 billion. Europe's Euro area surplus
is expected to remain high, around US$ 110 billion and perhaps more if EU growth slows.
Developing countries' overall deficit in 1999 is expected to be about 60 billion, but
those in Asia are likely to show a surplus of about 40 billion. Economies in transition
are likely to show a slightly improved current account position, from a deficit of about
30 billion in 1998 to a deficit of 25 billion in 1999.
But this year
was also important because, despite the uncertainty in the world economy, we were able to
reaffirm the strength and momentum of the multilateral trading system by sticking
firmly to our Uruguay Round commitments, by moving forward to liberalize trade in areas
like telecommunications and financial services, and by holding a very successful 2nd
Ministerial Conference and 50th anniversary celebration events which
confirmed, at the highest level, the WTO's role as a cornerstone of the new global
economy. This is particularly important for countries hit by the crisis and for all
In a certain
sense, the developments in the financial crisis have formed the backdrop to all of our
activities and deliberations over the past twelve months. This is because the crisis,
although financial in its origins, has inevitably had and will continue to have
repercussions for world trade. It is also because we have all recognized that our
system must be an essential part of any lasting solution to the crisis that only by
keeping markets open and the international trade system functioning smoothly can we hope
to contain the crisis, and return the world economy to the path of growth.
outline what I see as the year's defining points and their implications for our future
Ministerial Conference. This was our second Ministerial Conference since the WTO's
creation in 1995, and a second great success for the system. In the face of mounting
uncertainty and instability in world markets, we were able to reach a balanced and
ambitious action programme - a programme to guide us into the next Ministerial Conference
in November, and towards the negotiating rendez-vous that is scheduled for the end of
implementation which was one of the most important issues to emerge from the
Ministerial Conference. What is at stake in the implementation process is not just the
credibility of our Uruguay Round commitments. What is at stake is our success in
continuing the integration of developing, least-developed and transition economies into
the global trading system. This is the real meaning of the implementation debate and the
real test of our system in the time ahead.
recommendation to all Members is to give full attention to this aspect of our activity,
and to give a high priority to taking into account the real needs of their partners.
Implementation is a real and complex issue: it cannot be used to stop the process of
further liberalization; but it equally cannot be considered a minor problem in our
institution whose Members are predominantly developing, least-developed, or transition
work programme. Already the built-in agenda embodies a very ambitious programme of work in
addition to implementation - including further negotiations in agriculture, services and
aspects of intellectual property; and the preparation of decisions in areas like
investment and competition policy. In addition, we must build on the very significant
efforts we have made over the past year to improve the participation of the
Least-Developed Countries in the system.
electronic commerce. I want to highlight this aspect of our future work especially
the speed with which we moved from a decision at the Ministerial Conference to a
substantive work programme for one important reason. In this area as in
telecommunications, information technologies and financial services we are seeing
the rise of a new consensus, among developing and developed economies alike, about the
importance of widening the circle of access to new technologies, and about building the
global infrastructure for the 21st century economy. This consensus can provide
a powerful new dynamic in our next phase of multilateral negotiations and it must be
Fifth, the 50th
anniversary celebration. This was the first time that world leaders from some of the most
important trading powers have come together in support of the multilateral trading system.
The political importance of this event is difficult to exaggerate. Though their priorities
and perspective may have differed, all governments agreed on the importance of a
rules-based trading system in coping with the challenges of the 21th century.
All agreed on the central role of this system in the global architecture. And all agreed
that the WTO's new role in the global economy gives its work a political as well as an
has raised the political profile of our institution, together with the WTO Secretariat's
participation at high-level meetings such as the Summit of the Americas, the Summit of
Mercosur, and the ministerial meetings of the G15 and the G8.
crisis. When the General Council met in July Members expressed a strong and unanimous
agreement that we must keep our markets open if we were to avoid a further deterioration
of the global economic situation. So far we have lived up to those commitments. Not only
have there been no major trade policy reversals - including those countries most affected
by the crisis but in fact there has been a general drive towards greater regional
and multilateral liberalization.
- The conclusion
of the Financial Services Agreement at the height of the financial turmoil and with
the significant involvement of the crisis-hit countries - was the strongest sign yet of
the value that Government's place on the pursuit of open trade within in a rules-based
- In 1998, a
large number of countries have continued to move in the direction of unilateral trade
liberalization. This includes in particular the implementation of substantial trade
liberalization programmes in Asia. Countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines are
implementing medium-term tariff reduction programmes that go well beyond their WTO
commitments. Korea has made significant moves in financial services liberalization.
- In the course
of 1998, several other countries have carried our unilateral MFN tariff cuts, including
Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Egypt, Mexico, and Turkey. I will come back to this important
issue in my intervention on relations with the IMF and World Bank.
- And there are
indications that ASEAN's leaders will call for increased liberalization of trade and
services and faster implementation of a regional tariff agreement at their
Summit in Hanoi next week.
I also want
to address concerns about the possible misuse of anti-dumping in this time of crisis.
During the period covered by the report, the overall number of anti-dumping actions has
not increased as compared to the 1992-1997 average - and in fact the current levels are
still well below historic peaks. Nonetheless, there has been some increase in the use of
anti-dumping compared with the two most recent preceding years 1995 and 1996
in particular by certain major trading powers and on certain products, such as textiles
and steel. Let me urge all countries to continue showing restraint and responsibility in
their use of contingency protection especially over the next critical months.
dispute settlement system. This year has again confirmed the central role that dispute
settlement has come to play in the world trading system. We can be proud that this is a
system where all countries the large and the small now have equal access to
the rule of law in their trade relations; an achievement underlined by the number of
developing countries who now use the system and succeed under its procedures. But we also
have to realize that, in such a new system, we are engaged in an exercise of learning. We
all have an interest, not only in living by the rules of the system, but in helping the
system to work and in facilitating access to it, in particular for developing
Last but not
least, the new issues. The past year has also been characterized by growing pressure on
the WTO from other policy areas, and the growing relevance of issues like trade and
development, trade and the environment, or trade and finance. The higher political profile
of our Organization and its growing impact on people's lives means that we
must work harder to reaching out and explaining our work to a broader and more informed
- To this end,
we have launched an informal dialogue with non-governmental organizations over the past
years within the guidelines set down by Members.
- I have
personally held a series of meetings with a wide range of NGO's, and invited them to
suggest ways of improving our dialogue.
- I also
announced a package of measures in July, including regular NGO briefings and the
establishment of an NGO forum in the WTO's highly successful Website - all aimed at making
our organization more accessible and more open to the wider public.
initiatives will be intensified next year with the holding of two high-level gatherings to
discuss Trade and the Environment and Trade and Development. These will be two major
events in the life of our organization.
As we near
the end of this 50th anniversary year of the multilateral trading system, we
find ourselves opening a new chapter of our history and confronting a new set of
challenges. Yet as we move forward we do so secure in the knowledge that the basic
principles of this system, non-discrimination, consensus, the rule of law, are more
relevant than ever to the central challenge of our time - managing an ever-more
interdependent global economy
Let me make a
few points by way of conclusion:
before leaving office on 30 April 1999, I will present you with my final
reflections on the tremendous experience of the past few years in this great and unique
system for the peaceful evolution of international society. Let me say now, however, that
we should all be proud of what has been achieved in 1998 and in the years since the
creation of the WTO. But it would be wrong to undervalue the fragility of the
construction. There is a constant danger that events might undermine our ability to make
progress in building a rule-based world trading system, capable of taking into account in
a balanced way the interests of all our Members - advanced, developing,
least-developed and transition economies alike.
point is that it is clear that our efforts to complete the multilateral trading system
cannot be viewed in isolation from so many other policy issues which belong to the agenda
of globalization. More and more, trade and finance, trade and development, trade and
environment, trade and social issues, trade and health issues - just to mention some
of the main points - will seem to our public opinion to be facets of a single issue.
That issue is: how improved governance in this ever more interdependent world can
encompass the peaceful and balanced development of all countries and all peoples.
is why I believe we need to think deeply together about how to improve global institutions
so that governance of the world economy can better respond to so many hopes and concerns
of the world community.
I would like
to underline today, as I have in many of my speeches, the need to enlarge the group of
nations that should share this responsibility, and to extend into a truly global vision
the issues I mentioned earlier which seem sure to be ever more linked together.