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Minister Fast Outlines Canada’s Agenda for the Next WTO Director-General
April 8, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today issued the following statement outlining the agenda Canada would like to see pursued by the next director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“As the selection process for a new director-general of the WTO continues and WTO members are canvassed on their preferred candidates, I have instructed my officials to relay to all members and prospective candidates the agenda Canada expects the next director-general to commit to and pursue during his or her term of office. In what remain challenging and uncertain times for both the global economy and the WTO itself, the selection of the next director-general will be a critical one. Canada views the selection process as a unique opportunity to engage with director-general candidates in a frank and open discussion about the role of the WTO and the future of the Doha Round.
“In Canada’s view, it is imperative that the successful candidate possess the right long-term vision for the WTO, along with the leadership characteristics, experience, proven record of success and commitment required to realize that vision. First and foremost, as a country at the forefront of trade liberalization, Canada will support the selection of a candidate who can marshal common cause against the protectionism that remains a toxic threat to the global economic recovery. Accordingly, the successful candidate must be a champion in the fight against tariff and non-tariff barriers around the world.
“The new director-general must also be a strong supporter of an effective, rules-based multilateral trading system that includes the effective monitoring and surveillance mechanisms that underpin a well-functioning WTO secretariat and dispute settlement system.
“In light of the continued impasse in the Doha Round, Canada has pursued an aggressive bilateral and regional trade agenda, as have many other WTO members. The next director-general must possess a clear plan to re-establish the WTO as an institution that can credibly advance multilateral trade liberalization efforts in the best interests of all of its members.
“Canada strongly encourages the WTO to take an active role in facilitating new approaches to global commerce. These approaches include the recently announced plan to negotiate among a group of some, but not all, WTO members a Trade in Services Agreement, an initiative that Canada fully supports. The new director-general will have a clear role to play in persuading other members to join such efforts—efforts that are increasingly important in ensuring barrier-free global trade flows. The new director-general must also show leadership in finding creative ways to harness the successes of bilateral and regional initiatives in order to reinvigorate the multilateral trading system.
“In that light, Canada will support the selection of a candidate who has a demonstrated ability to bridge the very difficult gaps between developed, developing and least-developed countries in the pursuit of successful multilateral trade outcomes.
“Canada supports a merit-based selection process and will be calling upon all members to select a candidate who exhibits these traits and is committed to advancing this agenda for the common benefit of all WTO members. Canadian officials will be carrying these messages to their WTO counterparts in the coming weeks. As minister of international trade, I will also be presenting Canada’s position to my counterparts at the upcoming WTO ministerial meeting in Bali.
“Canada believes that trade and investment represent the twin engines of growth for the global economy. There is no better job creator or economic growth generator than freer and more open trade. In order to ensure that people around the world maximize their potential for greater long-term prosperity, freer and more open trade is the agenda that should be pursued by the WTO’s next director-general.”
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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