Title: WTO: Lamy: Address by the director general of the World Trade Organization, during the Rio+20 Earth Summit, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure and an honour for the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be present at the historic Rio + 20 Earth Summit. Sustainable development is at the heart of Rio + 20 and at the heart of the WTO.
The Preamble to the Agreement establishing the WTO states that the organization must work towards the objective of “sustainable development.” In being one of the youngest international organizations, the WTO's membership agreed right at the outset that international trade would only truly enhance human welfare if put to the service of sustainable development goals.
The WTO is an organization that strives to be as inclusive as possible in its pursuit of an open, equitable and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system; and in its pursuit of sustainable development. Its doors are opened annually to civil society through the WTO Public Forum. The records of its official meetings, and the vast majority of its working documents, are made accessible to the public. Civil society may contribute to the WTO dispute settlement process through the submission of amicus curae briefs, and can participate in the dispute settlement process’ increasing number of open hearings.
On issues as wide ranging as fisheries subsidies and the developing world's access to medicines, civil society has been the strong and reliable partner of the WTO.
The WTO, through its daily mission of trade opening, contributes to a more efficient allocation of resources, including natural resources, across the globe.
The Doha Development Agenda (DDA) launched the world’s first ever environmental negotiation in the context of a round of trade negotiations. The negotiation has three distinct chapters, each with its unique contribution to make to a greener global economy.
First, is the chapter of accelerated trade opening for environmentally-friendly technologies; enhanced access to the wind mills, and solar panels that would make a greener energy future possible. Second, is the chapter that calls for mutual supportiveness between WTO rules and Multilateral Environmental Agreements. Third, is the chapter aimed at the reduction or elimination of environmentally harmful fisheries subsidies; the subsidies that are depleting the world’s fisheries. To climb even higher mountains in the WTO on environmental issues, the world must first cross the hills of the DDA.
While trade opening can support the green economy, the WTO also serves to keep green protectionism in check. The WTO rulebook is designed to allow WTO Members to pursue legitimate environmental and sustainable development goals, without causing arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination, or creating disguised restrictions on trade. It establishes the fine line between protection and protectionism, and in so doing furthers the pursuit of legitimte societal goals.
Food security is also at the heart of the WTO. The WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture represents the first attempt by the international community to create a level playing field in the area of agricultural trade. It disciplines the use of trade-distorting subsidies, export subsidies, and tariffs, and allows the developing world to regain some of the comparative advantage that it was previously denied. Completing the DDA would take the reforms brought about by this historic accord further.
Currently the DDA is at an impasse. I speak on behalf of WTO Members when I say that we must strive to take the Multilateral Trading System forward, so it may help us place the global economy on a sustainable development pathway.