Director-General Candidates Weigh In on Future of WTO

11 April 2013

As the whittling down of WTO Director-General candidates begins in earnest, ICTSD - the publisher of Bridges - has released a new publication aimed at helping to better understand the future of the World Trade Organization from the perspective of those vying for its leadership.

This "living document" - which will be expanded and updated as the Director-General appointment process unfolds - is part of an ongoing process initiated by ICTSD to help gain a better understanding of the key issues influencing the multilateral trading system.

In this context, candidates were asked to provide a general statement and respond to seven specific questions on plurilateral agreements, preferential trade agreements, industrial policy, food security, climate change, access to energy and energy security, natural resources, and the role of trade in promoting structural economic transformation.

The publication reaches beyond the rhetoric and conjecture swirling around the leadership race and delves into how potential leaders will approach major issues in the run-up to the Bali Ministerial Conference and beyond.

To date, five of the nine candidates - Taeho Bark (Republic of Korea), Anabel González (Costa Rica), Tim Groser (New Zealand), Alan Kyerematen (Ghana), and Mari Pangestu (Indonesia) - have provided their authoritative views. Responses from other candidates are expected and will be posted as they are submitted.

A sampling of commentary from Global Challenges and the Future of the WTO

"Through close monitoring and analysis, the WTO can and should do its part to help regional deals become more compatible both with each other and with the WTO framework as a whole."

- Taeho Bark on preferential trade agreements.

"On the trade front, the agriculture reform contemplated in the framework of the DDA will reinforce developing countries' resilience to food security shocks and price volatility."

- Anabel González on food security.

"The challenge to negotiate a comprehensive new global climate change agreement by 2015 is every bit as challenging as the need to complete the Doha Development Agenda. The temptation to use trade measures unilaterally may increase."

- Tim Groser on climate change, energy access, and security.

"The WTO can play a facilitative role in the development of disciplines to regulate fishing subsidies, which cause over-fishing and depletion of major stocks.  In that regard, the progress being made in the Negotiating Group on Rules to come up with disciplines to regulate fisheries subsidies should be welcomed."

- Alan Kyerematen on natural resources.

"In order to reap the full benefits of trade, a multilateral trading system has to be inclusive. That means to bring along the lesser and least developed countries so that they can benefit from greater market access."

- Mari Pangestu on the role of trade in promoting structural economic transformation.

To view the full response from candidates, or to view all responses by issue area, click here.

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