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Hong Kong World Trade Organisation plenary

Hong Kong World Trade Organisation plenary

Jim Sutton Speech:

Mr. Chairman, Delegates. I convey the appreciation of the New Zealand delegation to the Government of Hong Kong China for the hospitality and superb organisation of this conference.

I also congratulate Saudi Arabia and Tonga, our Pacific neighbour, on their accession .

Over these next few days, many of us will find ourselves in small rooms negotiating over the fine print.

Occasionally, we should pause and remind ourselves of the much larger issues at stake.

For those of us who think we should try and make the world a better place, the WTO has a unique role to play.

We have seen at times the damage that can be done to the lives and welfare of our citizens if the global trade system breaks down.

Those events have a very human cost.

The WTO is much more than an organisation that holds long conferences. It is a system of multilateral rules and commitments. And what that system offers is predictability and a stable trading environment - for all members of the international community - large or small, rich or poor.

This is a fragile but precious thing.

Its future depends on the commitment of all of us here. We should do everything within our power to leave it better than we found it.

This system can only work if there is true consensus.

And we will not achieve that consensus unless everyone - the developed and the developing - plays an active part. To get the benefits we must all put in the effort.

Which brings me to the question of development.

When we launched the Doha Round as a ‘development’ Round we were sincere about it.

It worries me deeply that we face difficulty in getting real ambition in the market access pillars of the negotiation. Without real ambition, we cannot deliver a true development dividend.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in agriculture.

Agricultural protection is the most harmful of all trade barriers when it comes to the world’s poor - most of who live in rural areas. There is a moral imperative for the better off countries to show the way.

The Doha Round offers a real chance to stimulate economic growth and reduce global poverty.

Certainly, this process is not without its challenges.

Results involving policy changes at home leave governments acutely exposed. The decisions that we are asked to face up to here carry high political risks.

In these circumstances the surprise is that in successive Rounds we have achieved so much.

That progress has a lot to do with the political courage and vision shown by key players at critical points of the negotiations.

To bring this Round to a successful conclusion will require the same courage again.

Mr Chairman, delegates.

I was there in Seattle in 1999 when the WTO appeared on the brink of collapse. But we picked ourselves up, and launched the Doha Round two years later.

I was there in Cancun in 2003 when failure of the Doha Round threatened. But we pushed on, and produced the July Framework, a year later.

Here in Hong Kong, the deadline now looming is real. The hopes of millions around the world rest on our shoulders.

If the sixty-year history of the GATT and WTO has taught us anything, it is that we must persevere. We cannot afford to think of failure. There is simply too much at stake. Hong Kong must deliver.

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