With global trade talks long stalled, regional and bilateral deals have expanded. However, this piecemeal trend has achieved limited results in addressing some of the primary barriers to expanding global trade. What should be the G20 nations’ key priorities as they seek to boost global trade?
The “united front” negotiations have exhausted their initial driving push and the free trade agreements that have been announced or are already in effect are a response to this. Further potential is now being raised for the next step in the development of the global system of trade. The WTO must continue to act as a “rule-maker”, as the authority that can systemise these regional agreements.
As it was structured more than 10 years ago, which was a single package of amendments to WTO rules simultaneously on 20 chapters, this will not unfold anytime soon… ministers have been wise enough to understand that if this large packet of amendments has stalled at the moment. They can take from the “low-hanging fruit”, starting this year with a big multilateral agreement to simplify and standardise customs procedures, which have become twice as much of an obstacle to world trade as tariffs.
The truth is that the WTO has 159 members. That means that each of the 159 has to agree before anything is fully agreed. That’s asking a lot from a multilateral forum like the WTO. It has very many players with very many wide and diverging interests. Therefore, finding a consensus and ultimately an agreement on a trade deal as a whole in order to drive the liberalisation agenda is very, very difficult.
One should not be surprised that, following its integration into global trade, Russia has been less active on the outside, since all the activity is happening on the inside. After taking this strategic step, Russia has to go further with specific government decisions. Companies must also realise that they are now global market players.с
It (world trade) creates the environment to invest. It creates competition, opens the industries to productivity, to innovation, to investment. And in reality, I don’t think that this is something we need to prove. What we need is the willingness of the people around the negotiating table to use the evidence that is there and has always been there to push for greater agendas, to push for concessions, and push for an open market that will help us boost growth.
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