WTO Public Forum: Why Trade Matters to Everyone

Last week the World Trade Organisation held its annual Public Forum under the theme “Why trade matters to everyone”, aiming to tell the human story behind trade. The three day event showcased the myriad connections between trade and people’s daily lives, demonstrating how trade impacts and improved the day-to-day lives of citizens around the globe, in both developed and developing countries.

“No nation was ever ruined by trade” wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1774. In a simple, but powerfulconference video, the WTO shows just how often we interact with products and services from beyond our borders. From your morning coffee to your favourite pair of shoes, an international chain of production contributes to the development of poorer countries and the growth of the world economy.

In his opening speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon started by stressing the historical link between trade and development – “without trade, my country Korea could not have risen from the rubble of the Korean war and become a developed country. Without trade, China could not have achieved the impressive growth that has slashed poverty. Wherever we look – from Indonesia to Brazil, from Australia to Europe – trade provides a path to accelerated growth and prosperity. History has unfolded along the routes of global trade, from Timbuktu to the Silk Road.”

He firmly stated that “the question is not whether trade matters, but how we can make trade a better driver of equitable, sustainable development”. As when countries trade, wealth is created, but where trade is absent, economies cannot grow – they stagnate – and when this happens it is the most vulnerable who pay the price.

He called on the international community to work together to meet their “very important responsibilities” in 2015 to recognise the major role that international trade has as an essential component of an integrated end to poverty, ensure food security and promote economic growth – “an ounce of trade can be worth a pound of aid.” He specifically pointed to a need to complete the Doha Round, integrate and diversify African economies, avoid protectionism and build countries’ capacity to trade by cutting red tape and investing in infrastructure.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo also stressed the need to recognise the human aspect of trade – “it is not just about dollars, rupees or pesos….it is about the quality of our lives.” It affects everything from the goods we buy and the prices we pay for them to the security of our jobs and how much we earn to doing them. Trade has boosted development and helped to cut poverty around the world.

A major study by the Pew Research Center has found that the biggest supporters of trade today are not developed countries, but developing countries. Now – more than ever – trade as a force for good, as a force for jobs, as a force to lower prices and increase wages, has the potential to touch the lives of everyone in the world and particularly the poorest.

Read UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speech in full here

Read WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo’s speech in full here

Summary

Last week the World Trade Organisation held its annual Public Forum under the theme “Why trade matters to everyone”, aiming to tell the human story behind trade. The three day event showcased the myriad connections between trade and people’s daily lives, demonstrating how trade impacts and improved the day-to-day lives of citizens around the globe, in both developed and developing countries.

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By | 2017-10-08T11:56:19+00:00 October 9th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off on WTO Public Forum: Why Trade Matters to Everyone

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