Speeches & Transcripts

Statement by Anabel Gonzalez, World Bank Group Senior Director for Trade & Competitiveness, at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference

December 16, 2015

Photo: © WTO. Courtesy of Admedia Communication

Thank you Chair. I would like to provide a brief overview for Ministers of the support provided by the World Bank Group for the multilateral trading system and for developing countries to make the most of trade opportunities.

Our engagement in the WTO is both broad and deep. We work closely with WTO Members and with the Secretariat on almost every issue in the organization’s agenda. At the country level we work with many of you and your officials to implement WTO rules and deliver wider reforms for trade and competitiveness.

Today I would like to provide some detail on just four areas of our work.

First, Aid for Trade: Ten years into the Aid for Trade Initiative we are one of the key partners in this effort. The World Bank Group President led our engagement at this year’s Global Review and launched a new initiative with Director-General Azevedo on the role of trade in ending poverty by 2030. The Bank’s own Aid for Trade has grown steadily and I am pleased to report current commitments in this area amount to more than $13 billion, making us the largest multilateral donor of Aid for Trade.

Second, Trade Facilitation: We are working with forty-seven countries – with the list growing steadily – on implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement. With the support of development partners we moved quickly after the previous Ministerial Conference to set up a new $36 million program. The purpose of this is to respond to the implementation needs of developing countries and pave the way to larger-scale Bank trade facilitation support, which now amounts to more than $7 billion.

Third, accession to the WTO. As the organization continues to make welcome progress toward universal membership we are proud to work with almost every country during or after its accession process. I pay tribute to the governments of Afghanistan and Liberia, two LDCs whose accession we are marking at this Conference. We expect to mobilize significant support for both countries’ post-accession efforts.

Fourth, Least Developed Countries are a strong feature of our work in the WTO. Our financial commitment on Aid for Trade to LDCs was more than $1.1 billion last year. We are a key partner in the Enhanced Integrated Framework, and look forward to continuing our role in the second phase. We are intensifying our work to help identify opportunities for LDCs through the services waiver.

There are of course many areas I have not mentioned of on our engagement with the WTO: our work with the WTO in the G20; our membership in the Standards and Trade Development Facility and other partnerships with the WTO; our support for countries on services, agriculture, standards, global value chains, and more.  All of our activities are underpinned by a strong analysis and research program to ensure policies and trade programs are based on the best possible evidence. 

In closing let me comment briefly on the state of play in the WTO. It is of course for WTO Members to decide the way forward. As a former Minister of Trade I know very well the difficult circumstances you are in at the moment. You have my support and that of my team, in the hope that you can translate the challenges faced today in the WTO into a renewal of the system. An open global economy underpinned by a strong and dynamic multilateral trading system is essential for achieving the goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. My commitment to you is we will continue to support your work and efforts to help developing countries benefit from international trade.

Thank you.