Global Trade Experts Weigh in on Bali Ministerial and Future of WTO

3 December 2013

BALI, INDONESIA - The Bali Trade and Development Symposium (TDS) kicked-off today amidst continuing uncertainty on the outcome of the WTO's Ninth Ministerial Conference. In keeping with the current Bali mood, the opening session of the major Ministerial side event discussed the future of a world trade system in flux, with global trade experts sharing their insights on the future of the shifting international trading system.

Opened by WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo and Indonesian Trade Minister and WTO Ministerial Conference Chair Gita Wirjawan, the side event immediately delved into the ongoing negotiations, before the two crucial players were summoned to the nearby WTO venue. The Director-General stressed the importance of the Bali negotiations.

"At the end of the day, what we're talking about is one of the most critical events in WTO history," Azevêdo told the conference. "It is there for the taking: it can be done, and it can be done now."

Gita echoed the Director-General's comments, noting that the convergence they have seen is promising.

"The last few days have been some of the most interesting experiences of my life, listening to so many people coming from different directions," the trade minister said. "The one common denominator is that there's a lot more convergence than divergence. "Other panellists reflected on altered trade and investment patterns, natural resource strain, the organisation of services in global markets, and food and energy security. The three day event will delve further into each of these three areas in high-level panels and smaller breakout sessions.

In-depth sessions on trade and climate change, as well as facilitating market access of services from least developed countries were also featured today, with notable speakers including Shankar Das Bairagi, Ambassador of Nepal to the WTO and Chair of the WTO LDC Group.

The Bali TDS aims to be a unique non-WTO venue steps away from the WTO Convention Centre, where negotiators and other key policy actors can exchange views outside the constraints of formal negotiations.

Notable speakers over the three-day event include a host of ministers, such as Jianhua Yu, Ambassador of China to the WTO, and Stephen Green, the UK's Trade Minister. Top business executives - such as Sir Thomas Harris, Chairman, European Services Forum and Vice Chairman, Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, and Carlos Eduardo Abijaodi, Director, Brazilian National Confederation of Industries - will also be engaging in discussion at the event.

The meeting is being convened by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and Indonesian partner Center for Strategic and International Studies. along with thematic partners including the World Economic Forum, The Evian Group@IMD, Chatham House, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Inter-American Development Bank, International Food and Agriculture Trade Policy Council, the World Trade Institute and the International Chamber of Commerce.

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