Trinidad: Trade Minister Leads Technical Team at WTO Meeting in Geneva
PORT OF SPAIN, December 1st, 2009 (MTI): A technical team from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), led by Senator the Hon. Mariano Browne, Trade and Industry Minister, has arrived in Geneva, Switzerland to participate at a World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting scheduled to take place during the period 30 November-04 December 2009. Team members include Permanent Secretary Carl Francis; Norris Herbert, Director, Trade; Randall Karim, Director, Policy and Strategy; and T&T’s Ambassador to the United Nations, HE Dennis Francis.
Minister Browne and his team will represent both Trinidad and Tobago and CARICOM at the Ministerial Meeting, since Trinidad and Tobago is the current Coordinator of CARICOM in Geneva and is therefore expected to play a leadership role on behalf of the Region.
According to Minister Browne, “Trinidad and Tobago remains committed to the principles and objectives of the multilateral negotiating process since it is quite frankly, in our economic interest. We believe at this critical time, in light of the global economic and financial crisis and the tethering signs of a recovery, that Members re-commit to ensuring the conclusion of the Doha Development Round in 2010 to foster greater confidence in the multilateral trading system.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s participation in the up-coming negotiations is critical in order for us to remain fully engaged in the Doha process to ensure that our interests are adequately reflected in the multilateral trading system. These interests include securing effective special and differential treatment to allow Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVE’s) sufficient time to undertake the necessary reforms during the transition to free trade. In particular, this will enable SVE’s to preserve their domestic policy space to protect domestic production from unfair competition.
Indeed, a recent study by the Institute of International Economics has estimated that the boost to global exports from concluding the Doha Round could range between $180 billion and $520 billion annually, depending on the level of liberalization agreed to by members in the final agreement. The potential GDP gains are significant, between $300 billion and $700 billion annually, and well balanced between developed and developing countries. This outcome will, if realized, be positive for the health of the global economy and the national economics of all Members of the WTO, including Trinidad and Tobago.
This 7th WTO Ministerial Conference offers an opportunity for CARICOM to reaffirm its collective commitment to a trading system that brings real benefits to all WTO Members through a genuinely inclusive, transparent and multilateral process. In this context, there are a number of issues which the regional grouping wishes to highlight.
In particular, CARICOM has expressed deep concerns surrounding moves to recalibrate the mandate of the Doha Development Round. In a statement on the regional position concerning the Doha Round, CARICOM reaffirmed that, “Our participation in the Round has always been predicated on the rebalancing of the multilateral trading system in a manner that promotes the sustainable development of developing countries. We therefore call on all WTO Members to reaffirm the centrality of trade provisions that are supportive of our development aspirations in the multilateral trading system.”
Coming out of the Informal WTO Ministerial Meeting held in New Delhi, India in September, WTO member states had agreed to a ‘road-map’ for restarting the current stalled Doha Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. Some of the major decisions arriving out of this meeting included unanimous affirmation on the need to conclude the Doha Round within 2010. At that meeting, there was a clear recognition that intensifying negotiations was the first step towards bridging these gaps.