Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, has called on the global trading community to move forward with reforms to modernise and support the efficient flow of goods and services.
During a recent visit to the World Trade Organisation's General Council meeting in Geneva, Dr Al Zeyoudi, who led the UAE delegation, called for measures to support joint efforts to back the global body's role as a forum for trade negotiations and an effective platform for solving disputes.
Global trade is both a key catalyst for inclusive global growth and an important remedy for current economic headwinds, Mr Al Zeyoudi told the council, which is the WTO’s highest decision-making body.
“Now is the time to push for greater progress to embrace digitalisation and enhance strategic digital trade policies, as well as to strengthen the WTO’s role as a forum for trade negotiation and rule-making, and an effective platform for dispute resolution and arbitration,” Mr Al Zeyoudi said.
Supply chain woes and congestion in container shipping are affecting the global exchange of goods, according to data compiled by Germany's Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
The WTO Goods Trade Barometer issued on August 23 suggested that the trade of global goods continued to grow in the second quarter of 2022.
However, the pace of growth was slower than in the first quarter and is expected to remain weak in the second half of the year.
The organisation lowered its forecast for global trade growth this year to 3 per cent, from 4.7 per cent, due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Global trade growth in 2023 is expected to be 3.4 per cent.
Mr Al Zeyoudi sought support for the UAE’s bid to host the 13th WTO ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi in December 2023.
The UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, has strong trade ties globally, a history of support for multilateralism and a track record in hosting international events, which make it an ideal venue for the conference, Mr Al Zeyoudi told ambassadors from WTO member states.
“As we emerge from the biggest disruption to supply chains in our lifetimes, member states must continue to reject isolationism and protectionism, and pursue multilateral, multilevel partnerships that accelerate the flow of goods, remove unnecessary barriers to trade and catalyse industrial activity and job creation,” he said.
“With our Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement agenda, we have placed trade at the heart of our new economic policy.”
The UAE signed Cepas with India, Israel and Indonesia, and negotiations are under way for a similar pact with Turkey and Georgia, as the country looks to double the size of its national economy and push gross domestic product beyond Dh3 trillion ($817 billion) by 2030.
Mr Al Zeyoudi also met with Ngozi Iweala, WTO director general, Rebeca Grynspan, secretary general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and Borge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum.