BusinessEconomy

“We need multilateral cooperation and solidarity more than ever”

5 Mins read

“We need multilateral cooperation and solidarity more than ever” – WTO Boss

In a lecture delivered to the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, on 22 November, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala warned that the multilateral trading system was under growing threat from fragmentation and decoupling, which “would not just be economically costly.

it would leave all countries more vulnerable to the global commons problems that now represent some of the biggest threats to our lives and livelihoods.” she said.

Madam Okonjo-Iweala further stated that at the same time that there is this showing of support to the WTO, I hear concerns about the future of the global trading system in light of rising geopolitical tensions – not least the tensions between Australia’s two biggest trading partners, China and the United States, and of course tensions between Australia and China itself. A week ago, Minister Farrell set out many of these concerns – and reiterated Australia’s commitment to a strong, rules-based multilateral trading system – in an important speech ahead of the recent APEC summit in Bangkok.

These risks to the trading system – and the imperative to find a cooperative, multilateral path forward – will be at the centre of my remarks this evening.

But first I want to also thank Ambassador George Mina, Australia’s permanent representative to the WTO, along with his team in Geneva, for everything they did to help me prepare for my visit. George is one of the hardest working ambassadors we have at the WTO. And he is making sure we keep our noses to the grindstone during this Australian visit – I’ve had meetings in three different cities in the past 24 hours.

A few weeks ago, Ambassador Mina sent me an ABC radio interview to help me get a better sense of the current trade debate here. Jeffrey Wilson, director of research and economics at the Australian Industry Group, described the critical role trade had played in this country’s prosperity and the remarkable run of growth that came after liberalizing reforms in the 1970s and 80s. At least until recently, he said, Australian businesses could just assume they’d be able to sell their goods and services into other markets, or source from overseas. The GATT/WTO system had been so effective that governments and market actors took the open global economy for granted, like water.

READ ALSO:  AfDB President receives $250K World Food Prize

Below is her full presentation….

It’s really an immense pleasure and honour to join you this evening. Thank you to Steven Lowy, Michael Fullilove and the Lowy Institute Thank you to the Australian government and all those who were instrumental in bringing me to Australia this time. And thank you for inviting me to deliver this year’s lecture.

Of course I feel no pressure whatsoever knowing this is the most important lecture in Australia.  Everywhere I went, people said “oh you’re going to give the Lowy Lecture!”  So that just ratcheted up the pressure, let’s see how we’ll do.

Earlier today I was in Canberra, where I had a series of very productive meetings with Prime Minister Albanese and members of his cabinet, including Trade Minister Don Farrell and Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Treasurer Jim Chalmers. I also met Simon Birmingham.

I was grateful to hear them emphasize Australia’s enduring commitment to a strong and effective World Trade Organization, and to our ongoing reform efforts.

Their words very much echo what I heard in Fiji just a few days ago, when I met with Pacific Island trade ministers. And before that, what I heard from leaders at the G 20.

At the same time that there is this showing of support to the WTO, I hear concerns about the future of the global trading system in light of rising geopolitical tensions – not least the tensions between Australia’s two biggest trading partners, China and the United States, and of course tensions between Australia and China itself. A week ago, Minister Farrell set out many of these concerns – and reiterated Australia’s commitment to a strong, rules-based multilateral trading system – in an important speech ahead of the recent APEC summit in Bangkok.

These risks to the trading system – and the imperative to find a cooperative, multilateral path forward – will be at the centre of my remarks this evening.

But first I want to also thank Ambassador George Mina, Australia’s permanent representative to the WTO, along with his team in Geneva, for everything they did to help me prepare for my visit. George is one of the hardest working ambassadors we have at the WTO. And he is making sure we keep our noses to the grindstone during this Australian visit – I’ve had meetings in three different cities in the past 24 hours.

A few weeks ago, Ambassador Mina sent me an ABC radio interview to help me get a better sense of the current trade debate here. Jeffrey Wilson, director of research and economics at the Australian Industry Group, described the critical role trade had played in this country’s prosperity and the remarkable run of growth that came after liberalizing reforms in the 1970s and 80s. At least until recently, he said, Australian businesses could just assume they’d be able to sell their goods and services into other markets, or source from overseas. The GATT/WTO system had been so effective that governments and market actors took the open global economy for granted, like water.

One important lesson I learned as a child in my village in Nigeria, during daily trips to the stream, is that water is something we cannot – and should not – take for granted.

The same is true for the multilateral trading system which for varying reasons is getting its fair share of knocks these days. But I hope to persuade you this evening that we are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of addressing specific and often reasonable concerns about exclusion, unfairness, and fragility, we run the risk of stepping away from a shared system of rules and norms that has served the world well for 75 years.

READ ALSO:  Covid spending, banking clean-up, payment of excess power accounted for high debt – Bawumia

Over the next fifteen or so minutes, I will look back at why that system was created in the first place, what it has achieved, and what it continues to deliver for people around the world. I will argue that history suggests fracturing economic ties is more likely to heighten geopolitical tensions than to soothe them.

I will make the case that fragmentation and decoupling of the Multilateral Trading System would not just be economically costly: it would leave all countries more vulnerable to the global commons problems that now represent some of the biggest threats to our lives and livelihoods.

As the world navigates the polycrisis – climate change, pandemic, the war in Ukraine, economic slowdown, inflation, food insecurity, monetary tightening and debt distress – we need multilateral cooperation and solidarity more than ever.

Finally, I will offer an alternative vision for the future of trade. Interdependence without overdependence. Deeper, more diversified, and deconcentrated international markets – or what we at the WTO are calling re-globalization. And I hope you leave this room with this word firmly in your head, re globalization, not de-globalization.

If governments are willing to use trade constructively to solve problems rather than amplify them, the WTO can help foster not just supply resilience amid ever more frequent exogenous shocks, but also geopolitical resilience.

 

Source: 3news.com

Related posts
Banking and FinanceEconomyMatters Arising

Bank of Ghana has printed over GH¢50bn in one year

1 Mins read
Bank of Ghana has printed over GH¢50bn in one year – Minority Leader Minority Leader Dr Cassiel Ato Forson is accusing the…
EconomyHeadline

Debt Exchange: NIC to suspend minimum capital requirements, CAR of insurance firms for 2 years

2 Mins read
Debt Exchange: NIC to suspend minimum capital requirements, CAR of insurance firms for 2 years As part of measures to mitigate the…
AfCFTABanking and FinanceBusinessNews

Be champions of intra-African trade – Akufo-Addo urges APD business leaders

4 Mins read
Be champions of intra-African trade – Akufo-Addo urges APD business leaders Akufo-Addo made the call when he addressed participants of the Africa…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!