WTO Director General Wants To Put Human Dimension In WTO Work 02/10/2014 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo opened the 2014 WTO Public Forum by saying trade is essential but the international trade system should provide a seat for everyone at the table. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also insisted on the importance of a development-oriented international trade system. The 2014 WTO Public Forum opened yesterday for three days of brainstorming on why trade matters to everyone, this year’s theme. Numerous panels are being held and organised by diverse stakeholders, covering issues such as public health, global value chains, agriculture, standards, and development. The forum, taking place from 1-3 October, is attended by non-governmental organisations, governments, international organisations, academics, the private sector, media, and members of the public, according to the WTO. Over 60 panels are scheduled during the three days, according to the programme [pdf]. Azevêdo, opening the forum, said “trade matters to everyone because every day, for good or ill, it affects us all. It affects the goods we can buy and the prices we pay for them,” and “it affects the poorest the most,” he added. Trade is changing fast, he said, with developing countries placing “much greater emphasis on trade in their development plans.” Global trade, which reaches more people than it did 20 years ago, has “become a matter of headlines and high politics,” he said. The change in the WTO was reflected in the Bali package adopted last year, he said, and also reflected in the Trade Facilitation Agreement, part of the Bali package. The benefits of the agreement, he said, once implemented, “will accrue mainly to the developing world.” “For the first time ever at the WTO,” said Azevêdo, “the agreement provides for assistance and support to help developing countries build the capacity that they need to implement it.” Lastly, he said, developing countries are required to implement the agreement’s provision “only to the extent that they are ready to do so.” Section II of the Trade Facilitation Agreement deals with “special and differential treatment provisions for developing country members and least-developed country members.” Article 13 (General Principles) provides for “assistance and support for capacity-building,” and states that “Where a developing or least-developed country Member continues to lack the necessary capacity, implementation of the provision(s) concerned will not be required until implementation capacity has been acquired. Article 13.2 also states that “Least-developed country Members will only be required to undertake commitments to the extent consistent with their individual development, financial and trade needs or their administrative and institutional capabilities.” “Our aim is to open markets,” Azevêdo said, “but it is also to support less developed countries to participate, to prevent harmful practices, and to provide a fair system which rules are agreed by all, where disputes are settled in an open and transparent manner, and where everyone has a seat at the table.” “I want to put the human dimension in the heart of our work and to change the terms of the debate to change this organisation,” he said. UN: Need for Development-Oriented Trade System Ban Ki-moon said that without trade, “my country could not have risen from the rubble of war to become a developed nation,” Ban is from South Korea. A UN press release is here. “Wherever we look… trade provides a path to accelerated growth and prosperity,” he said, adding later, “but how we can make trade a better driver of equitable, sustainable development.” “We need to promote trade that benefits as many as possible, especially women, young people and the least advantaged,” he said. Ban said Africa, least-developed and land-locked developing countries should be integrated in the global economy “through open, non-discriminatory and equitable trade.” He also called for the promotion of policy coherence between the economic, financial and trade systems and environmental sustainability. “We need an open, fair, rules-based and development-oriented international trading regime in the spirit of the Doha Development Round,” he said. “The United Nations “fully supports the efforts of the WTO to conclude the Doha Round.” Slow progress on the multilateral trade agenda has brought a proliferation of bilateral, regional and inter-regional trade agreements, he said, warning of “fragmented trade rules and undermining the consistency of the multilateral system.” The WTO Public Forum is the “largest annual outreach event” of the organisation. It has been held since 2006. Before that, the event was previously known as the Public Symposium, according to the WTO, first held in 2001. Image Credits: World Trade Organization Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."WTO Director General Wants To Put Human Dimension In WTO Work" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.