The FINANCIAL — Director-General Roberto Azevêdo started a brief visit to the Middle East today (1 March) with a series of meetings with senior government and private sector representatives in Qatar. His meetings focused on the role that trade and the WTO can play in supporting Qatar’s continued economic growth.
The Director-General said:
“Qatar has a solid vison for its people and its economy. Trade and the WTO have already helped to implement this vision and will continue to do so. In light of Qatar’s vision for the country to become a trade and financial hub, reducing the time and cost of moving goods across the border can make a big difference. The WTO’s new Trade Facilitation Agreement, concluded at our Ministerial Conference in Bali in 2013, is designed to help with exactly this problem. By making trade flow more easily, this agreement can also support Qatar’s economic diversification and focus on services. However, in order to benefit from the agreement, first it must be ratified. This is one immediate and very positive step that Qatar could take.
“Another area of interest for Qatar is the WTO’s Information Technology Agreement. This agreement was expanded by a group WTO members during our Ministerial Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, just three months ago. This deal will eliminate tariffs on 201 additional IT products, trade in which is worth around $1.3 trillion each year — that’s 10% of global trade. This is larger than global trade in automotive products. The expanded agreement will lower the costs of doing business for companies of all sizes. It will support lower prices — which will help many other sectors using IT products as inputs — and, again, it will help create jobs. For Qatar, as a member of the original Information Technology Agreement, this expanded agreement is potentially very fruitful.
“As we look ahead to 2016, and beyond, we need to work towards further trade agreements which enhance growth and development in Qatar and across the Gulf Cooperation Council. WTO members want to deliver more results, more quickly. It is clear that all of our members want to tackle the big, outstanding trade issues. A debate is currently under way about the precise shape that this work should take. After my meetings here today, I am confident that Qatar will make its voice heard in this debate to help us deliver further, much-needed reforms to global trade rules.”
During the visit the Director-General held meetings with the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani, the Chairman of Qatar Chamber of Commerce Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al-Thani and the national committee for WTO-related affairs. He also attended an event organised by the Qatar Business Association. Tomorrow the Director-General will travel on to Jordan to continue his brief visit to the region, according to WTO.