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Towards a reformed WTO

Read the speech in it’s entirety below:

Gunnar Hökmark, Draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. – Madam President, I would like to thank the rapporteur and the Committee on International Trade for this report. I think it is worthwhile, when we discuss the WTO, also to underline the fact that globalisation and free trade have given millions and millions of people new opportunities. In the last two decades, we have seen more progress in the fight against poverty than the world has ever seen before.

This underlines the need to safeguard a stable framework of fair and multilateral rules for free trade. This is the main task of the WTO and it is also why it is important to have a strong and strengthened WTO. We need to ensure that we can have more international trade and competition without distortions. This is why the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs has pointed out the need of reducing state aid, to remove non-tariff trade barriers and to help developing countries achieve a better position in the negotiations regarding the multilateral framework and the rules of free trade.

This underlines once again why we need a strong WTO and a strong Secretariat – in order to take decisions and to uphold the rules, but also in order to develop the multilateral trade system.

If we succeed in having a strong WTO and a strong Secretariat, we will take an important measure to safeguard the opportunities for global trade to develop in a framework of free and fair rules. That is our task – nothing more and nothing less.

In that sense, it is also important to highlight some of the things that need to be done: we need to increase free trade in services; we need to increase openness in financial services; we need to ensure that we can have more free trade in agriculture. When we discuss increasing food prices, we can see the importance of opening up the markets.

But we will never succeed in doing this without a strong WTO and without the opportunity to uphold a strong framework that is good for the developing countries, that can give poor people new and better opportunities and that can also help us all benefit from the opportunities of free trade.