WTO Public Forum: González calls on parliaments to create more inclusive policies
Arancha González, the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) Executive Director, today called on parliaments to do more to ensure that national trade policies are put in place. Ms González was speaking at the opening day of World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Public Forum, which runs until 3 October at the WTO’s Geneva headquarters.
Ms. González participated in a session entitled ‘Post-Bali agenda: where does parliamentary oversight fit in?’, which was jointly organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the European Parliament. Panellists explored how parliaments can participate in discussions concerning WTO-related issues so that they can respond to citizens’ concerns and monitor the implementation of international trade agreements as well as development goals.
‘Parliaments need to make sure that they work in the interest of all the stakeholders, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which generate 80% of jobs globally,’ Ms González said. She pointed out that parliaments are unable to develop good trade policy discussions if they do not invest in research and seek to overcome technical barriers.
The discussions emphasized the responsibility of governments to find solutions over the recent WTO agreement on trade facilitation, which some experts has suggested could unleash more than US$1 trillion in global exports.
Ms. González stressed that parliaments need to create trade policies that encourage investments in agriculture. Businesses in developing countries require skills, knowledge and technology to be able to better take advantage of their countries’ natural resources, she said.
‘A big part of the problem is trade rules and a big part of the answers lies in development policies, rural development policies and investment in agricultures that for too long have been neglected’, Ms González said.
She added that parliaments must listen to women and youth if they want to create inclusive policies that generate employment, pointing out that, compared to men, women entrepreneurs reinvest 90% of the revenues within their communities and families.
Referring to an international survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Ms González emphasized that countries that best embrace trade as a tool for development and poverty reduction are developing countries such as Tunisia, Uganda, Kenya and Nicaragua.
Wrapping up the session, Ms González stressed that the rules of trade must be fairer and more open than they are today.