Mike Moore's speeches
Renato Ruggiero's speeches,
highlights some of the major trends in trade policy during 1997. For example, on 15
February, 69 governments agreed to wide-ranging liberalization measures in basic
telecommunications services. On 26 March, forty governments agreed to cut customs duties
on information technology products, beginning on 1 July 1997 and with the aim of
eliminating all duties on these products by 2000. International trade in information
technology products amounts to some US$600 billion annually, while domestic and
international revenue generated in the basic telecommunications sector is roughly the same
A whole chapter of the Report
is devoted to exploring in depth the interaction between trade policy and competition
policy. While it recognizes the adverse effect on competition that government trade
measures may have, the chapter focuses on the effects that enterprise practices can have
in restricting or distorting trade. It examines the national legal means employed by
governments to prevent or remedy such enterprise behaviour and the possible areas where
enhanced international co-operation might be explored.
In its review
of developments in world trade in 1996, the Report provides a more detailed analysis,
confirming and expanding on the findings of the WTO Secretariat's preliminary assessment
published in April 1997. The Report examines in greater depth trade flows by region and
product, intra-trade of regional integration agreements, and trends in commercial services
trade. World trade slowed down markedly in real and nominal terms in 1996. Real
merchandise exports grew by 5 per cent - much less than in the two preceeding years - but
remained above the sluggish growth rates of the early 1990s. There was also a general
slowdown by region, with only Africa on the export side and Latin America on the import
side recording higher growth in 1996 than in 1995. The analysis is supported by a full
volume of trade statistics and charts.
prospective look at 1997, the Report states that world trade and output growth are
expected to accelerate in comparison to 1996. The Report's early assessment of trade in
1997 is based on economic indicators available at the time of writing in August 1997.
Events during the autumn are not captured in the assessment. Nevertheless, it appears that
the forecast of global growth in trade of 7 per cent in real terms for 1997 remains
broadly in line with expectations. The effects of developments in Asian financial markets
will become apparent in data for 1998. Regarding the South East Asian region, the Report
maintains that, while recent developments in the financial sector in a number of these
countries will continue to pose policy challenges in the months ahead, most of the
economies concerned are expected to grow at rates above the world average in 1997.
summarizes under four main points the trade policy challenges confronting WTO member
governments in the months and years ahead:
"built-in agenda" carried over from the Uruguay Round must be carried forward
importance of ensuring that regional trade arrangements are compatible with the rules and
objectives of the WTO's multilateral trading system;
negotiations and the continuing WTO work programme must take full account of the needs of
all the membership, especially those countries facing risks of marginalization;
new areas of work identified by Ministers at Singapore in relation to trade and
investment, trade and competition policy, transparency in government procurement, and
trade facilitation must be effectively addressed under the terms of the relevant mandates.
the very broad scope of the WTO, the Report also gives an account of the activities of the
institution, highlighting some of the major issues which were debated or negotiated by the
member governments in the various councils, committees and working parties. In total, the
WTO now has 64 such bodies and 27 legal instruments under its purview, compared with 20
bodies and 10 legal instruments in 1986 under the former GATT.
Notes to Editors:
Report comprises 2 volumes and covers the period to 31 August 1997. Volume I contains the
descriptive commentary and analysis of world trade, developments in trade policy, the work
of the WTO, and a special chapter on trade and competition policy. Volume II is devoted
exclusively to trade statistics in the form of tables and charts.
of the 2-volume Report are available on sale in English, French and Spanish, priced SFr
75, from WTO Publications, World Trade Organization, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de
Lausanne, CH-1211 Geneva 21 Tel: (41 22) 739 5208 or 5308 Fax: (41 22) 739 5792 Email:
email@example.com. The WTO Internet site (http://www.wto.org) provides a facility for
copies are available for journalists, one per request, from the Information and Media
Relations Division, WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, CH-1211
Geneva 21 (Tel: 022-739-5019, Fax: 022-739-5458).