Mr Gusmão said that “trade war” is the current “buzz phrase” among the big economies but for g7+ countries, trade can help them to achieve peace. He called on the richer countries, such as the G20, to do more to help change the current state of affairs, not only by helping fragile states to increase their trading capacity but also by taking greater responsibility for monitoring and tackling illicit outflows and international tax evasion. Mr Gusmão called for multilateral organizations to help build the necessary infrastructure in these countries. His full speech is available here.
Hon. Deng Deng Hoc Yai, Minister of General Education of the Republic of South Sudan, the youngest nation in the world with huge natural resources, stressed that trade is a fundamental pillar of South Sudan's growth strategy. The minister firmly believes that multilateral trade will allow South Sudanese firms to participate in a larger market that offers economies of scale and productivity gains. The country's desire to join the WTO stems from this strong belief. The first step towards realising this desire has been fulfilled, he said, with the establishment of the Working Party on the Accession of South Sudan at the Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires. His full speech is available here.
Kamila Sidiqi, Afghanistan's Deputy Minister for Commerce, expressed the view that opening to international trade will have a direct positive impact on increasing the country's national income and promoting its efforts to achieve an equitable balance of trade. This will allow Afghanistan to use its resources more efficiently by specializing in the production of the goods and services that the country can produce more cheaply while importing the others. Integrating into the global trade framework will also have a positive effect on Afghanistan's long-term growth since it will give access to more advanced technological inputs available in the global market and enhance incentives for innovation.
Ms Sidiqi said that, as a former entrepreneur and businesswoman in Afghanistan, she strongly believes that trade can contribute to women moving out of unpaid labour in agriculture and into more lucrative sectors such as manufacturing and services. This will increase their income and generate more formal employment opportunities for women. Her full speech is available here.
Ms Maryan Hassan, Chief Negotiator for the Accession of Somalia to the WTO, highlighted that her government is currently undergoing a process of rebranding, engaging with the private sector which understands the potential of what the WTO can do. She also stressed the role of other international organizations in the WTO accession process. “While these mandates touch on issues such as humanitarian disasters and gender-based violence,” she said, “they do not encompass everything that a post-conflict country needs. We also require trade experts and economists who can help our economies transition out of war.”
Ms Hassan underlined the importance of hiring more Somali nationals within international organizations as they are best placed to understand the struggles that their country faces and can therefore deliver tailored solutions. The Federal Government of Somalia is embodying this philosophy — for example, the Ministry of Planning has set a deadline of January 2019 for all international organizations with Somalia country offices located outside of Somalia to relocate to Somalia. Her full speech is available here.
Sara Sekkenes, Conflict Prevention and Partnerships Advisor at UNDP, underscored the importance of investing in conflict prevention while addressing fragility and conflict and the need for investments to be sustained over a period of time. She highlighted the value of partnerships such as the Aid for Trade initiative and the Enhanced Integrated Framework for least-developed countries because they shine a spotlight on the importance of mainstreaming trade at the national level and galvanizing support for more effective institutional and trade capacity development. The complex and comprehensive reform efforts brought about by acceding to the WTO represent an opportunity to build a policy and regulatory framework that advances inclusive growth and sustainable development. Her full speech is available here.