With WTO economists forecasting a decline in world merchandise by 10 percent in 2009, WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy, who was present during the APEC Trade Ministers’ Meetings (21 – 22 July), explains that:
“This adversity is severely testing the policy ingenuity of governments across the globe, and in today’s interdependent world, their willingness to make common cause in addressing shared challenges. Effective international cooperation and open markets are as vital today as they have ever been.”
This year’s Report, World Trade Report 2009: Trade Policy Commitments and Contingency Measures examines various trade agreement measures used by governments in times of crisis, their implications to an economy and to the trading system, at large.The challenge, according to the report, is in “designing disciplines for the use of contingency measures is to strike a balance between flexibility and commitments. Too much flexibility may undermine the value of commitments but too little may render the rules unsustainable.” Says Director-General Pascal Lamy in his introductory comments: “The topic for this year's World Trade Report is highly relevant to the challenge of ensuring that the channels of trade remain open in face of economic adversity. Well-balanced contingency measures, designed primarily to deal with a variety of unanticipated market situations, are key to the effectiveness and the stability of trade agreements and to avoiding high intensity protectionism.”Last year, APEC Leaders committed to refrain from implementing any WTO inconsistent measures in any area. Ministers have since pledged to resist any forms of protectionism that impede competition and market efficiency, to notify the WTO of any measures that fall short of those commitments and to work with partners to strengthen WTO capabilities to undertake regular monitoring.
Excerpts from Lamy’s news conference may be found on the APEC website: www.apec.org
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