After a week of intense negotiations in Bali, WTO member states appear to be steps away from approving a final deal on trade facilitation. This new deal would simplify and streamline customs and port procedures. Once implemented, the agreement is expected to cut trade costs globally by up to 10%, boost world exports by $1 trillion and create 21 million net jobs.
This agreement couldn’t come at a better time. Despite a modest recovery from the crisis, global growth and job creation continues to underwhelm. An outcome in Bali not only brings tangible benefits to business by reducing frictions in their supply chains—it signals the willingness of world leaders to overcome differences and stand together in pursuit of a more prosperous world.
The Bali Ministerial, the ninth of the Doha Round of trade negotiations launched back in 2001, was seen as a final test case for the future of the WTO. Failure to announce even a modest outcome—the package covers trade facilitation, agriculture and development issues, but leaves out a number of others—would have damaged beyond repair the body’s credibility as a platform for further trade liberalization.
In face of such threats to the global trading system, we applaud the impressive leadership demonstrated by the various trade ministers and negotiating teams in Bali and the months prior.
The WTO should build on the momentum generated by this important occasion and develop a clear action plan to resolve remaining issues in the Doha Round, which would return the body to its pre-eminent role in the global trading system.