WTO Raises Attention To Multilateralism

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The World Trade Organization is drawing attention to the importance of multilateralism, suggesting that regional trade agreements may undermine it, that the global economy depends on it, and that it should undergo a thorough analysis at next week’s WTO public forum.

Today in Singapore, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, said in a speech that “the impasse in the negotiations is political and must be addressed at the political level if we want the multilateral trading system to contribute to exiting the crisis, sooner rather than later.”

Yesterday in Beijing, Lamy warned in a speech that “as an international community we must continue to fight protectionism, but in the WTO in particular, we must also fight policy fragmentation,” which he said can arise from regional trade agreements.

And the topic of next week’s annual WTO Public Forum is, “Is Multilateralism In Crisis?” The 24-26 September event is expected to draw some 1,300 participants from civil society, universities, businesses and governments, according to WTO.

The forum will include panels that pick apart a range of topics, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, preferential agreements, the shift in global power, least-developed countries, sustainability, competition policy, dispute settlement, agriculture, labour, investment agreements, and “rethinking” trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights. Panels will be webcast.

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