Declaración del Director General de la OMC

I first want to welcome Rodrigo de Rato and Jim Wolfensohn, and to express my sincere gratitude for your friendship, leadership and advice. This is the second year in a row that the heads of the IMF and the World Bank have travelled to Geneva to attend a WTO meeting on Coherence. Your presence sends a powerful message, not just about the importance of coherence among our institutions, but about your commitment to the multilateral trading system and the success of the Doha negotiations.

I think we can all agree that these negotiations are one of the most important issues on the global economic agenda. As was emphasised at the recent Bank/Fund Annual Meetings, the current economic recovery is broad but fragile. We have a window of opportunity to deepen structural reforms, strengthen global markets, and ensure that the current expansion is sustainable. Nothing would contribute more to its sustainability than further opening world markets and strengthening trade rules under the Doha Round.

The outlook for the WTO has changed significantly since the summer. The July General Council Decision has put the Doha negotiations back on track, and eased many of the concerns we felt in the aftermath of Cancún. It represents an important step forward in the Round — and has injected new momentum into the Geneva process — but it is not an end in itself. This Round will be judged, not by what we say today, but by what we achieve at the end of the negotiations. Success — as the IMFC communiqué reminds us – “will require the full commitment of all parties, in particular strong leadership from the major trading nations, and readiness of all countries to embrace the opportunities provided by more open trade”.

Cooperation among the three major international economic institutions has never been more critical. At the last Coherence meeting, Members encouraged us to focus our cooperation on three areas in particular — policy analysis and advice, technical assistance, and adjustment assistance. Let me highlight three concrete areas where progress is being made — the details of which can be found in the background document for this meeting.

First, the Trade Integration Mechanism. Last May, Anne Krueger briefed us on this new IMF policy, and explained that financial assistance would be available to low income developing countries to help them cope with adjustment difficulties arising from loss of trade preferences in the Doha Round, as well as from the elimination of textile quotas at the start of next year. The task now is for the Secretariat to continue working closely with IMF staff to help WTO Members to evaluate the opportunities presented by the Trade Integration Mechanism.

Second, the Cotton Initiative. The July Decision explicitly calls on the WTO to work closely with the IMF, the World Bank, and other international financial institutions on development aspects of the Sectoral Cotton Initiative. Let me use this opportunity to ask my friends, Rodrigo and Jim, to redouble their efforts to see how existing programmes — as well as additional resources — can be directed towards development in those economies where cotton is vitally important, as we agreed in Cotonou.

Third, Trade Facilitation. The July Decision also invites the IMF and the World Bank to cooperate with the WTO to make technical assistance and capacity building more effective and operational in support of the negotiations on trade facilitation, which were launched this summer. The World Bank, in particular, has done excellent work in examining the costs of excessive red-tape for developing countries trying to encourage trade and investment — and I think this is an area where there is huge potential for synergies among our institutions.

I have mentioned three areas where the WTO is looking for — and receiving — tangible support from the Bank and the Fund. Let me also draw your attention to an area where the IMF and the World Bank are looking for support from the General Council. A positive response by the WTO to requests for observer status in the TNC and its subsidiary bodies would give the IMF and the World Bank first-hand information on where their contribution to the success of the Doha negotiations can most usefully be made. Already they contribute actively to the work of many councils, committees and working groups of the WTO. Extending their observer status to the TNC would be a logical step — and would certainly add to the level of coherence of our work, in particular to lend full support to the DDA.

I want to conclude with the observation that these General Council Meetings on Coherence are obviously increasingly important — as underscored by the presence of Rodrigo de Rato and Jim Wolfensohn today. But there is also growing value in having on-going work on Coherence at the technical level in the Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance. Two Coherence issues — trade financing and exchange rate volatility — have already been usefully taken up at a technical level in the Group. I also note that Coherence is on the agenda for the Group's December meeting. As we begin today's discussions, I encourage Members to think about how we can build further on this progress.

Thank you.


IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn and WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi listen to the General Council debate on coherence in global economic policy-making.