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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Geneva visit Highlights Business support for WTO

A delegation of Members and staff of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has been visiting the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva this week to highlight business support for the rules-based multilateral trading system. 

“The WTO has underpinned decades of prosperity, in our region and around the world.   WTO trade reform has lifted millions from poverty.  It has enabled even small and developing economies to have a voice.  It has helped to level the playing field”, said delegation leader and ABAC Chair, Richard von Appen, from Chile. 

The ABAC delegation, comprising business representatives from Chile, Hong Kong China, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States met with APEC delegations in Geneva and called on WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 7 October. 

“The key message ABAC has been presenting this year to APEC Leaders and Ministers and now here in Geneva is that the Asia-Pacific business community is united in its strong support for the WTO.  We urge WTO member economies to engage constructively and urgently to sustain and reform the WTO as needed.”  

Mr von Appen noted that the IMF had cut the global growth outlook to its lowest since the Global Financial Crisis, while the WTO had forecast merchandise trade growth to drop to 1.2 % this year. 

“We cannot afford to take the WTO for granted; in the current global environment it would be almost impossible to create a new organization like that if the current one was to disappear, which would negatively impact developing as well as developed economies”, Mr von Appen said. 

In their meetings in Geneva the ABAC delegation drew attention to a statement in support of the WTO which had been finalised earlier this year.  

“In all our discussions we have stressed the need to reform trade rules to make sure that the WTO remains relevant and fit for purpose – including to ensure that modern business models can flourish, and that women and medium, small and medium sized enterprises can access the opportunities and benefits of the global economy”. 

The ABAC delegation also outlined their support for the inclusion in the Ministerial Statement of commitments for WTO Members to adopt binding commitments that prohibit the discrimination between men and women prior to the Ministerial Conference in Kazakhstan.