WTO remains priority despite “not achieved” grade for Doha

by | Dec 18, 2011 | Media Releases

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) should remain a top priority for New Zealand’s trade policy even though last week’s WTO Ministerial did not deliver a conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda, says the NZ International Business Forum.

“WTO Ministers have confirmed what everyone already knew – Doha will not be concluded this year. If this were NCEA, the result would be very clear – not achieved,” said NZIBF Executive Director Stephen Jacobi.

In Geneva 15-17 December, Ministers from the WTO’s 153 member states met for their 8th biennial meeting to review progress in Doha and discuss a range of other business including accessions of new members.

“Success in Doha remains blocked by fundamental disagreements between the major players. While that is deeply disappointing for business, the WTO remains the global trade referee. The WTO provides the legal framework for the entire global trading system and an important brake on increasing protectionism. That’s why the WTO remains of fundamental importance to New Zealand and economies why both large and small are keen to join.”

Mr Jacobi underscored both the importance of the accessions of new WTO members and the need to continue the Doha process.

“We welcome these new accessions which expand the WTO’s global community. Russia, an important future partner for New Zealand, is the last major economy to join the WTO. Our close Pacific neighbours, Samoa and Vanuatu, will now also benefit from the WTO’s role in promoting trade and development. We urge all WTO members to remain in dialogue with each other in order to find the right formula for concluding Doha as soon as circumstances permit”.

Mr Jacobi said that the absence of an outcome to Doha increased the importance of other negotiations like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“TPP is no alternative to WTO. As an ambitious, high quality and comprehensive regional trade agreement in the making TPP provides a way forward for reducing barriers to trade and investment and putting in place better trade rules. As in the closing phase of the Uruguay Round the world is looking once more to the APEC region to show leadership on trade”.

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