MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
The work of the WTO is relevant to achieving a number of Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG 8, which recognizes that, for poorer countries to achieve the other MDGs, it is essential to create an enabling international environment. The WTO’s contribution to creating a stable multilateral trading system is thus crucial to building a more favourable global environment for developing countries.
Since the majority of WTO members are
developing countries, one of the WTO’s main objectives is to ensure
that they benefit equitably from international trade along with
countries that are better off. A fundamental aim of the Doha Round of
trade negotiations is to ensure that developing countries are provided
with the trade opportunities that will enhance their growth and
development prospects. A successful conclusion to the Doha Round will
contribute significantly to the achievement of the MDGs.
In both the agricultural and the non-agricultural sectors, greater trade openness will provide many benefits, while the opening of services trade can provide many opportunities to developing countries. However, some developing countries, especially the least-developed countries, will need technical and financial assistance from the international community to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that a successful conclusion to the Doha Round would afford.
The Aid for Trade initiative, of which the WTO is a leading proponent, is a crucial element in implementing the gains of trade opening. Its overriding purpose is to help developing countries, especially least-developed countries, improve their productive capacities and strengthen their trade-related infrastructure. Since capacity building is an important feature of MDG 8, it is critical that commitments to Aid for Trade are sustained and increased.
The WTO is actively promoting the attainment
of Target E of MDG 8, which concerns providing access to affordable
medicines on a sustainable basis in developing countries. Countries
without sufficient manufacturing capacities can make effective use of
compulsory licensing through the so-called “Paragraph 6 System”, which
gives poor countries an additional flexibility under the TRIPS
Agreement to gain access to affordable essential drugs.
The activities of the WTO are also having an impact on the achievement of other MDGs, particularly MDG 1, the cross-cutting goal that strives to eliminate poverty and hunger. The WTO’s work on opening trade in environmental goods also contributes to the attainment of the MDGs, as do its efforts to increase the flow of technology and innovation.
In helping to attain these goals, the WTO will continue to join forces with other international organizations and other actors to make the achievement of the MDGs a reality. Strong and harmonious cooperative efforts are needed if the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved, and the WTO is deeply committed to supporting these efforts.
Since 2000, the international community has made progress in the achievements of MDG 8; progress has been made in the Doha Development Round; serious progress has also been made in providing Aid for Trade to poor countries. Access to medicines has improved. However, we have not reached our destination. We need to build on the progress made and ensure that, by 2015, we have achieved our goal. Ending poverty cannot wait!