Renato Ruggiero's speeches,
It is a great pleasure
and honour to give this keynote speech at the International Chamber of Commerce's 33rd
World Congress here in Budapest.
is a particularly apt venue for such a gathering. The benefits of trade and investment are
everywhere to be seen. In the past ten years, foreigners have invested over $20 billion in
Hungary, some $2,000 for every Hungarian. Their investment is transforming the economy.
Whereas the economy shrank by 12% in 1991, it has grown by nearly 5% a year for the past
three years. Exports have doubled in the past five years and now make up over half of the
economy. To those who say that trade is bad for development, I say come to Hungary and see
for yourself how wrong you are. Just ask at General Electric's Hungarian workers, or
Phillips', or Samsung's.
is a pity that a new round of world-trade talks was not launched in Seattle. I hope we can
get one started soon. But in the mean time the World Trade Organisation has not stood
we have launched sectoral negotiations on agriculture and services, which together account
for over two-thirds of world output. The potential gains from further liberalisation in
these areas is huge.
we are working on a package to help the world's poorest countries reap greater benefits
from the world trading system. This package includes better access to rich-country
markets, increased technical assistance, and closer co-operation between the WTO and other
global institutions that promote development, notably the World Bank.
we are making progress on dealing with the problems that some developing countries have
with implementing some of their commitments from the Uruguay Round. And fourth, we are
looking at ways to improve how the WTO works, and in particular how to adjust to having
136 members, all of whom increasingly demand their say.
is an ambitious agenda. Many of our critics would rather we did nothing. They claim we do
enough harm as it is. How wrong they are. The WTO is a powerful force for good in the
world. Of course, on its own, freer trade is not enough to lift people out of poverty.
They also need sound economic policies, debt relief, and help to pay for better education,
healthcare and infrastructure. But without trade, and the faster growth it can bring, they
have little chance of escaping penury. Make no mistake: the world's poor are the real
losers from Seattle. We owe it to them not to let them down.
critics also claim we don't have public opinion on our side. Yet the facts tell a
different story. 58% of Americans think the WTO has a positive impact on the world,
compared with only 27% who think it has a negative impact, according to a recent poll by
the Angus Reid group. 65% of Germans think the WTO has a positive impact on the world, as,
I'm proud to say, do 63% of New Zealanders and 58% of Mexicans. 2,000 people may have
rioted against capitalism in London this week, but thirty countries, more than 1.5 billion
people, are queuing up to join the WTO.
far the biggest is China. Its decision to join the WTO is momentous. By opening its
markets to foreign trade and investment, it will make China a richer and more open place.
By committing China to world-trade rules, it will entrench market-based reforms and
strengthen the rule of law. And by giving Beijing a seat at the WTO table, it will give it
a stake in defending the world trading system.
more open China is good for the rest of the world too. Business will get better access to
an economy of 1.3 billion consumers that is growing at 8% a year. Everyone will benefit
from a more stable and peaceful China. And WTO members will have recourse to our
dispute-settlement procedures to make sure China sticks to its commitments.
business will only get these benefits if Congress votes for permanent trade relations with
China. I urge Congress to welcome China into the world trading order, at a time when it is
showing a genuine commitment to profound economic reform, rather than leaving it out in
the cold, nursing grievances.
face a big challenge ahead. The WTO is too often misunderstood, sometimes genuinely, often
wilfully. Contrary to what our critics say, we are not a world government of any shape or
form. People do not want a world govenrment, and we do not aspire to be one. But people do
want global rules, and that is where the WTO comes in. Not as a rule-setter: unlike King
Solomon, we do not lay down the law. We are a forum where governments negotiate rules,
which are ratified by national parliaments, that promote freer trade and provide a
transparent and predictable framework for business. And we are an impartial arbitrator on
which member governments can call to hold others to rules to which they have previously
course, we need to put our case better. We also have to listen to our critics more. They
are not always wrong. And we are trying to make the WTO's work even more accessible to the
man and woman in the street. We are constantly improving our website, www.wto.org. We
welcome public scrutiny. We have nothing to hide. But we can do better. We must.
so, we cannot succeed alone. We need others to speak out on our behalf too. That is where
you can help. Businessmen are not doing enough to promote freer trade. There is no shame
in trumpeting your role in making Hungary, or Mexico, or Thailand, or South Africa, or
many other countries better places. There is no shame in pushing hard for a new round of
trade liberalisation. Free trade are not ugly words. On the contrary. Freer trade helps
pay for the things we value most: jobs, health, education, a cleaner environment. Every
mother wants the best the world can offer when her child is sick. Freer trade also
promotes freedom and buttresses our security and peace. One of the great things about the
80s and 90s is that so many more people, from Eastern Europe to South Africa and South
America to Asia, finally became free. We owe it to themand to ourselvesto
match that political freedom with economic opportunity. The WTO also upholds the rule of
law instead of the law of the jungle. We need more champions. I hope you will join us in
fighting for a better world.