Protectionist panic effectively quelled

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The World Trade Organization has succeeded in quelling protectionist panic after the 2008 global financial crisis, according to WTO director general Roberto Azevedo.

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“It is hard to imagine a world without WTO , he said with the global economy more interconnected that ever. WTO was formed in January 1,1995 and deals with the rules of trade between nations, taking over the functions of the 50-year old General Agreement on Tariff and Trade.

“Over the years the WTO has helped to boost trade growth, resolve numerous trade disputes and support developing countries to integrate into the trading system. It has also provided a bulwark against protectionism, the value of which was made plain in the trade policy response to the 2008 crisis, which was very calm and restrained in contrast to the protectionist panic that followed previous crises,” Azevêdo said in a statement.

The governments that had signed GATT were officially known as “GATT contracting parties.” Upon signing the new WTO agreements (which include the updated GATT, known as GATT 1994), they officially became known as “WTO members.”

WTO has welcomed 33 new members, ranging from some of world’s largest economies to some of the least developed. Today the 160 members account for approximately 98 percent of global trade.

Azevêdo said that at 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali in 2013, WTO took the first major step forward in updating multilateral trade rules. The measures agreed in Bali were a real breakthrough for the WTO, and they will provide a significant economic boost. In December 2014 WTO Members came together to recommit to implementing all aspects of the Bali package.

“While we have delivered in many areas, and despite the success of Bali, the pace of negotiations remains a source of frustration. In future we know that we need to deliver more outcomes, more quickly. In addition, we know that our poorest members are still not adequately integrated into the trading system, so again we need to do more to help them reap the benefits that the system can offer,” he said.

WTO will be holding its 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi from 15 to 18 December—the first time the WTO has ever held a Ministerial Conference in Africa. Heads of international organizations will convene at our headquarters in Geneva to participate in the 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade from 30 June to 2 July. WTO will be working to implement all aspects of the Bali package including a deadline of July to conclude a detailed road map to tackle the remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda.

WTO will line up more negotiations on trade in environmental goods and on an agreement to remove tariffs on a wide range of information technology products.

“Success in each of these areas would be the best way to mark our 20th anniversary—and to reaffirm the contribution that the WTO has made to improving people’s lives and prospects over the last two decades,” Azevêdo added.

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