UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi said the current global multilateral trade order is in a crisis and expressed cautious optimistim towards it.
She called for more contributions from member states of the World Trade Organisation, or WTO, to this order and the current negotiations.
She made her remarks in a keynote speech at the opening session of the WTO’s Public Forum in Geneva.
“The most negative impact that came about as a direct consequence of the global economic crisis was the rise of ultra-protectionist measures in the direction of reducing trade finance, which has in turn reduced the activities of small and medium enterprises [SMEs] and threatened their prosperity in many world countries, adversely affecting the continuation of the global trade boom,” she said.
Shaikha Lubna also underlined the importance of strengthening the frameworks of economic and trade openness and its role in increasing the stability and ensuring the prosperity of countries.
Entitled, “Is Multilateralism in Crisis?”, the WTO session also saw the participation of a number of other world dignitaries and was attended by around 1,300 participants from civil society organisations, universities and public and private sector enterprises from around the world.
It tackled whether or not multilateralism was in crisis with the aim of proposing new methodologies for the global trade order in light of many global concurrent developments. It also discussed matters that require new approach mechanisms and how to strengthen the multilateralism-supporting role of all parties involved.
The session discussed the issues that most affect the global multilateral trade order with an attempt at proposing suitable solutions.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said around 90 per cent of all global trade is affected by trade finance, and that SMEs and small countries have been negatively affected.
Lamy had stated in a Press statement before the forum that multilateralism was indeed at a crossroad; it would either advance through shared values and close cooperation or it would suffer impediments, which were evident in the recent setbacks in the Doha Development Round and in increased protectionism.