At a meeting in Bali, Indonesia last recently, the heads of four international organizations issued a strong call to ease trade tensions and refocus on the importance of trade and the multilateral trading system in fueling economic growth. This call was made by Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, together with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, World Bank President Jim Kim and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, at a jointly-organized conference under the theme “How global trade can promote growth for all.”

According to the Director General of the World Trade Organization Mr.Azevêdo, the trading system is not perfect — but it represents the best efforts of governments around the world, working together for 70 years, to find ways to cooperate on trade issues. He pointed that it took a lot of people and a lot of time to push the boulder this far up the hill. Thus, even keeping it in place requires constant effort.

Mr. Azevedo said that currently, the WTO covers around 98% of global trade and has overseen a historic opening of markets and integration of economies. Since 1980, average tariffs have been cut by two thirds. The system has provided stability and predictability in global trade — holding firm even during the financial crisis. And, as a result, it has helped to fuel unprecedented growth and development around the world, as well as a dramatic reduction in poverty. To him, the system has real value so there is need to keep working on it.

Mr. Azevedo then pointed out the need to explore all avenues which could ease the current tensions and strengthen the trading system.  “We all know the risks of further escalation — risks to the economy and risks to the trading system itself, which would multiply the economic risks over the long term. We can’t let that happen. We need trade and the trading system to play their part in fueling growth — just as they have done so effectively for seven decades.” He said.

Source: World Trade Organization