The World Trade organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo stressed on Monday that it was vital to follow-up on the deal that was created in the Bali Ministrial Conference to ensure that WTO would deliver even more in the future.
"First and foremost, we have to harvest the benefits of Bali by fully implementing the decisions reached at the Bali Conference - including implementing the Trade Facilitation Agreement and delivering the support promised for developing countries," he said introducing the WTO annual Report.
"Secondly, as instructed by ministers at the end of the Conference, we must prepare a clearly defined work programme by December 2014 which sets out a roadmap to conclude the Doha Round. Our goal is nothing less than to complete the Doha Round, and to do it as quickly as possible," he added.
Azevedo believed that "concluding the Doha Round will mean finding solutions for the areas that were the major source of the negotiating impasse: agriculture, non-agricultural market access (or industrial goods) and services." "These three issues are deeply interlinked and have not been discussed in depth for nearly six years. That is far too long - now is the time to bring them back into play. If we make progress in these three areas, the prospects for agreement in the remaining Doha issues would be considerably enhanced. But if we don't tackle these tough issues head on, the opportunities for progress elsewhere are going to be very limited".
He asked the international Community "not to forget what is at stake here. Trade is a powerful force for growth and development. It stimulates innovation and competitiveness, supports the creation of high-quality jobs, provides access to new products, lowers prices, cuts the cost of living and brings peoples of different nations closer together. Above all, trade improves the quality of people's lives".
However, in the last two years, trade growth has slowed to just over 2 per cent and the WTO forecast for 2014, while higher at 4.7 percent, is still below the 20-year trend. But members are not powerless in the face of these figures. "We can actively support trade growth by avoiding protectionism in times of uncertainty and by reaching new trade agreements", said Azevardo.
He explained that the World Trade Organization is back in business and that's the message that rang out loud and clear from the Bali Ministerial Conference, when all members of the WTO agreed on a package of measures aimed at streamlining customs practices, tackling important agricultural issues, and boosting opportunities for our poorest members. "The "Bali Package" is the first set of agreements struck since the WTO was created in 1995 and represents a positive step towards concluding the Doha Round of trade negotiations, which began in 2001", he added.
According the the WTO DG, Once implemented, the Bali Package will provide a boost to the global economy, delivering growth and jobs. Indeed, it is estimated that the deal could be worth up to USD 1 trillion per year, generating up to 21 million jobs around the world.
Crucially, the majority of these gains would accrue to developing and least-developed countries. Indeed, the negotiating process leading up to Bali created a new dynamic in the WTO as developing and least-developed countries made their voices heard as never before.
"Bali also brought significant systemic benefits. Once again the WTO is a viable forum for negotiations. By demonstrating we can reach multilaterally agreed outcomes, we have put the spotlight back onto the WTO and raised expectations for what else we might be able to achieve," he added.
WTO conducted 15 Trade Policy Reviews in 2013, allowing members to expand their understanding of the policies of their trading partners.
WTO is also a forum for discussions on a variety of issues such as development, agriculture, environment, and health and safety standards. These exchanges of views promote understanding between members and can help to resolve differences of opinion before they escalate. When disputes do arise between trading partners, the WTO plays an important role in resolving them.
The organization delivered more than 280 technical assistance activities in 2013, involving more than 13,000 participants across the globe. Africa accounted for approximately 40 percent of the participants while around 20 percent were from Asia and the Pacific, and 17 percent were from Latin America.