Remarks of United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk at a Working Session
on the WTO’s Contribution to Recovery, Growth, and Development
7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference
December 2, 2009 Geneva, Switzerland
(NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT)
As the financial situation unfolded a year ago, there were dire predictions about what might happen to the trading system – visions of the kind of protectionism that worsened the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Instead – and as evidenced by the Director General’s most recent TPRB report – we have not seen anything close to what was feared. The system has held fast and, so far, has passed a fairly strenuous test.
The continued health of the trading system is due in part to many of our own individual efforts in the face of domestic political pressure to turn inward. It is also due to the recognition that in today’s global economy, it’s pretty easy to shoot yourself in the foot.
Of course we must, and will, remain vigilant.
We should all recognize that the rules-based global trading system took a lot of difficult work over the last six decades to establish and maintain, and that it will be a continuing challenge to maintain its relevance.
Our being here today is a testament to the continued and increasing significance of a rules-based World Trade Organization in an increasingly integrated global economy.
Through the WTO’s work on Aid For Trade, the Enhanced Integrated Framework, and its own technical assistance programs, the WTO has also helped to facilitate trade-related technical assistance in line with the priorities set by Members in their national development strategies.
I attended an important meeting yesterday with many least-developed country Members, hosted by the Director General. It highlighted the work of the WTO and its Members to ensure trade benefits the poorest Members of the WTO. For its part, the United States is the largest single-country provider of trade-related technical assistance.
The WTO’s vocation of economic growth and development requires a Doha outcome that goes beyond just capturing little more than the status quo in terms of market access. We need an outcome that truly creates new opportunities for all Members.
The Secretariat’s recent report to the LDC Subcommittee concerning market access for least-developed countries highlighted the geographical redistribution of LDC trade flows, with LDC exports to developing countries expanding – particularly to the major developing economies such as China and India.
In this context, a Doha outcome that delivers the global economic growth necessary to spur development will require market-opening contributions from all key players – not only developed but also advanced developing countries, commensurate with their role in the global economy.
This remains the linchpin in our effort to take Doha to the finish line, and the United States remains committed to working with our partners to achieve a Doha success.
The United States supports the WTO’s ongoing monitoring of trade measures, its work to ensure that trade benefits all Members, particularly the poorest, and Members’ pursuit of progressive trade liberalization through the Doha Round negotiations.
Through these efforts, the open, transparent, and rules-based multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO will continue its important contributions to economic growth and development for all.