WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

12 December 1997

Statement by WTO director-general Renato Ruggiero on the agreement on financial services

In the beginning of this week I made clear that an outcome in these negotiations which enabled us to secure the harvest of offers on the table and gave impetus to our continuing process of liberalization in financial services would be a good result. This is what has been achieved this evening.

This landmark agreement comes at a critical time. With so much of the world facing economic turbulence, negotiators from all our members states have shown once again the courage and commitment to pursue the policies of liberalization which are essential to economic stability, growth and development. I congratulate them all.

Nations representing over 95% of the trade in banking, insurance, securities and financial information have brought financial services into the realm of international rules. It is through these international rules, agreed by all our members, that businesses can best gain the certainty needed to plan their future international activities.

With this agreement, the WTO has completed a remarkable year. In 1997, our members agreed on an historic global pact on telecommunications encompassing more than 95% of the global telecommunications market; they agreed to remove all tariffs on information technology products, one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy; and they agreed, through the High Level Meeting of Least Developed Countries, on a path which will give important impetus to the integration of the world's poorest lands into the multilateral trading system.

These four events underline the commitment of our member states, both developing and developed, to the process of trade liberalization and globalization. At a time when many of our citizens feel uncertain about this fast changing world, this commitment provides the foundation for our collective welfare.

We will not rest with these achievements, but will continue to build on them. The commemoration next year of the 50th anniversary of the multilateral trading system provides us all with the opportunity to reflect on the great contribution this system has made to peace and prosperity and to chart our future course in an ever more integrated world.