The impending departure of WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo marks the symbolic end of an era for the World Trade Organization (WTO), one that has seen a commitment towards deepening the relationship between the WTO and the business community. The importance of making the voice of industry heard has been ever more evident of late, as business representatives and policymakers around the world grapple with the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 crisis. The WTO Trade Dialogues provided one such opportunity, a virtual session in which FIATA was pleased to take part on 19 May 2020, together with over 70 business representatives around the world.
Markets must remain open
The message was and continues to be clear – markets must remain open and supply chains must be able to function in the face of crises such as this. COVID-19 may have shaken the world, but it is not the first, nor will it be the last crisis to do so. What this means is that governments must work together to build a trade system that is more resilient and able to ensure essential services such as logistics can continue to move goods and resources at any given time. This was the overwhelming response of all those who participated in the WTO Trade Dialogues, a position that echoes that taken by FIATA on a consistent basis. In particular, the crisis has highlighted two opportunities very much on the horizon in FIATA’s work – digitalisation, and the continued implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Coordinated approach is fundamental
The expedited movement and clearance of goods around the world through the effective cooperation of all WTO member governments under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement are crucial to creating a new future for international trade. This coordinated approach is fundamental to removing the bureaucratic red tape and bottlenecks that hinder the fluidity of the world’s supply chains at present. As those who were present underlined, this is a global problem that requires a global solution. FIATA thanks Roberto Azevêdo for his commitment to bridging the gap to the industry and hopes to continue to strengthen this relationship with the WTO in the years to come. Ensuring that the industry’s voice is heard within the national and international spheres is fundamental to ensuring that trade policy is fit-for-purpose to face the challenges of the present and the future.