A strong, relevant and credible WTO is needed to build back better from COVID, say Asia-Pacific Business Leaders

by | May 11, 2021 | Trade In The News

APEC Business Advisory Council
11 May 2021

Asia-Pacific business leaders, meeting virtually this week in the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC),
have released a Statement in support of the WTO.

“The WTO is the foundation of decades of prosperity for our region and the world,” said Rachel Taulelei,
Chair of ABAC. “We need it now more than ever – but we also need to strengthen and update the WTO
rulebook and operations to keep it relevant.”

Ms Taulelei said that ABAC was urging APEC economies to lead this work – just as APEC had played a
pivotal role in concluding the WTO Uruguay Round 25 years ago.

“Our top priority must be to ensure that WTO rules can help us collectively to overcome the health
challenges of COVID and restart the engines for growth,” she explained. “Trade can and should be part
of the solution to the current crisis.”

“We also need to get the WTO system fully operational again – that means we need to appoint a full slate
of WTO Appellate Body members and agree necessary reforms to the dispute settlement system,” she
added. “And enhanced transparency, both in respect of COVID responses and in meeting existing
obligations, will be essential to build trust.”

Ms Taulelei added that ABAC was urging APEC economies to champion reforms in other areas too. “For
resilient growth, we will need continuing trade liberalisation to keep supply chains functioning, and global
rules in a range of other areas – including for digital trade, for measures that help turbocharge the transition
to a low-carbon economy, and for wider and more successful participation in trade,” she added.

“There is also unfinished business in agriculture, fish subsidies and services that needs to be resolved,” Ms
Taulelei noted.

The Chair said that ABAC strongly supported the efforts of the new Director-General to find common
ground ahead of the Twelfth Ministerial Conference.

“Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has begun her term with energy and determination. The Asia-Pacific business
community welcomes her drive, and stands ready to contribute to WTO trade policymaking – this year
and into the future,” Ms Taulelei concluded.

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