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Doha success will rebalance trade rules in favour of poor, Lamy
17
Sep '10
Director-General Pascal Lamy opened the WTO Public Forum 2010 on 15 September with the hope that it would “enable our members to take the Multilateral Trading System forward”. He said that the Forum's “rich menu of sessions ... has been set by civil society itself, making this truly a Forum that belongs first and foremost to you”. This is what he said:

It is my pleasure to inaugurate the WTO Public Forum 2010 — our annual rendez-vous with civil society and the public. The goal of the Forum is to enable the Multilateral Trading System to respond to the hopes and aspirations of all segments of society. Its goal is to promote a frank and open exchange between all actors in the trade sphere on what is working, and what is not, in the global trading system at large.

This year's forum is devoted to debating the Forces Shaping World Trade. What are these forces? Are there new forces? Are there old forces? What form do these forces take, and are they of equal weight?

It will explore the role of the emerging developing world in impacting the Multilateral Trading System, of new technologies and innovation, and of growing concerns to do with issues such as climate change, energy, food security, and human rights — to mention but a few. What we have before us is a rich menu of sessions that will take us all the way up to Friday. A menu that has been set by civil society itself, making this truly a Forum that belongs first and foremost to you.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Forum. And on behalf of all WTO members and myself, let me say that we look forward to learning from you, and interacting with you. We hope that the Forum will enable our members to take the Multilateral Trading System forward based on the ideas that it generates.

Allow me first to comment on the context in which this year's Forum convenes. A context that hardly needs elaboration, since many of you may be experiencing it first-hand. One of a global economic downturn, albeit a crisis that is beginning to ease. The downturn has brought to light the real value of the Multilateral Trading System, if I may say so.

The Trading System has acted as an insurance policy against protectionism. In fact, a WTO “Radar Screen” was created shortly after the crisis to flash all the new trade restrictions that government would impose, with the aim of preventing them from spiralling — helping prevent the beggar-thy-neighbour policies of the 1930s. And I am pleased to say that we have, by and large, avoided a repeat of past mistakes. WTO disciplines have acted as a “containing force” of governments' worst instincts; which is to shut the foreigner out, or to blame the crisis on the foreigner — often, an all too easy path to take. And the good news is that trade volumes are picking up again nicely, after having fallen dramatically during the crisis.

Let me now comment on the topic of this Forum — The “Shaping Forces.” The Multilateral Trading System is clearly one of the most advanced engines of global governance, serving as a precursor for international legal regimes in many other domains. The richness of the programme that you have created demonstrates the wealth of expectations that we have of the WTO. Expectations that we can only afford because of the level of sophistication that the system has reached.

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