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Report Urges Sweeping Reforms to the World Trade Organization

22-Jan-2013 | Source : AG-IP News | Visits : 9786
Report Urges Sweeping Reforms to the World Trade Organization
Special to ag-IP-news Agency

GENEVA - Today, a global business leader, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, issued a report calling for the urgent reform of the WTO, a copy of which was given to WTO Director General (DG) Pascal Lamy, during a meeting earlier today in Geneva. 

Abu-Ghazaleh is a member of the DG’s WTO Panel of Experts. He is Chairman and CEO of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, an international holding company providing professional and educational services from 73 offices and 180 representative offices worldwide. 

The recommendations in the report, titled WTO at the Crossroads, represent the deepest reforms to the organization since it was created, in an effort to rescue the trade body from paralysis and irrelevance.
“Political decision makers must find the political will to reform the institution, just in the same way that their predecessors had the foresight to create the GATT in the aftermath of war and destruction," said Abu-Ghazaleh. “Otherwise, I fear the WTO will drift, and become less and less relevant to global citizens and business leaders alike.” 

Abu-Ghazaleh focused his proposals on several areas that are central to a more efficient functioning of the WTO. In all, he makes 22 recommendations that he believes will strengthen and reinvigorate an “invaluable” institution. 

“For me, it is far more important for the WTO to be economically rather than politically correct," he says in his report. “Only in this way can the forces of trade reach out and touch individuals, workers, companies and governments, in all corners of our world, with the objective of lifting all boats, in all harbors.” 

His proposals include the greater use of voting to address the problems posed by the consensus principle; the creation of a ‘sustainable plurilateral agreement’ approach to complement or replace the single undertaking; harmonizing the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the International Trade Centre with WTO operations; expanding the Trade Policy Review; establishing a regular Informal WTO Leaders Retreat; forming an Executive General Council Committee; and negotiating an Internet Economy Agreement. 

The report also makes a number of recommendations that would improve the WTO’s collaboration with the private sector, and places greater emphasis on public outreach by the WTO Secretariat, in an attempt to cement a healthier and more open rapport with citizens and NGO’s around the globe. 

The author passionately believes in the core mission of the WTO, and that the institution should take on a greater significance, given the massive global integration and dramatic economic changes that continue to shape the international community. Yet, at the same time, he believes the WTO is lagging behind today’s realities; that it must adapt its governance structures to the needs and demands that are driving our times today. 

Abu-Ghazaleh also feels that 2013 provides a “double window’ of opportunity for a WTO reform agenda. The Bali Ministerial Conference and the election of a new DG later this year provide an ideal and rare platform with which to launch a serious and engaging dialogue on how to strengthen the multilateral trading system, and ultimately implement those changes. 

“Without embarking and agreeing on a reform agenda, I fear the WTO’s best years could sadly be behind it," concludes Abu-Ghazaleh. 

“There have been enough excuses and arguments that the system is fine as it is; about how such an undertaking (reform) would interfere with the work before the WTO. I strongly disagree. The right kind of reform will be a friend of the WTO work agenda, not an enemy! Plus, the DDA Round is now entering its 12th year, and what do we have to show for it?” 

The report can be found at: http://www.tagorg.com/news.aspx?id=2492&group_key=news&lang=en
 
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