“Everyone can increase exports if imports also grow” — Lamy

Director-General Pascal Lamy, at the launch of WTO Chair at the Songjiang Campus, Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, on 23 July 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Director-General Pascal Lamy, at the launch of WTO Chair at the Songjiang Campus, Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, on 23 July 2010, on the argument that “during recovery it would be nonsense to assume that everyone can increase exports”, said that “of course, everyone can increase exports if imports also grow — thus making the overall resources allocation more efficient which means growth for all”. This is what he said:
Mr Sun Haiming, President of SIFT
Mr Yexing Guo, Vice President of SIFT
Professor Zhang Lei, WTO Chair-holder
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here at the campus of the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade on the occasion of the launch of a WTO Chair for this august institution.
I cannot think of a more appropriate venue for a celebration of this nature. In less than a decade of WTO membership, China has truly made its mark as a key and constructive leader in the WTO. China brings formidable knowledge and competence to this role, and is looked to for inspiration and leadership from many of its trading partners.
We conceived the WTO Chairs Programme in 2009, when the global economic crisis was its worst. And this is no coincidence. The crisis was indeed a manifestation of global challenges which are testing the capacity of the international system to address them. The crisis highlighted the crucial role of global cooperation and governance to restore growth and employment. China has played a vital role in sustaining economic activity during this difficult period, and without this contribution we would undoubtedly have seen an even greater economic contraction across the globe.
The adverse impact of the crisis on the world economy in terms of output and employment is undeniable. This has been the first crisis of a truly global nature; a crisis which has severely affected international trade. Indeed, the collapse in demand resulting from the financial crisis led to trade contraction of around 12 per cent last year, fiercer than the shrinkage of trade in the 1930s. But now trade growth is coming back fast, again thanks in no small measure to the continuing dynamism of China and others. The WTO Secretariat has forecast real global trade growth at some 10 per cent, but unless there are unanticipated negative economic impacts in the second half of 2010, this estimate may even turn out to be too low.
Many of us are hopeful that nascent signs of recovery that are appearing in some of the economies most severely affected by the economic downturn do not falter, and that the world economy can resume a reasonably robust and stable growth path. While no economy has been entirely spared from the adverse effects of economic contraction, it is the more vulnerable developing countries, particularly the least developed amongst them, that have been more acutely affected.
The international community has endeavoured to minimize the impact of the crisis in a variety of ways. We have worked to keep trade flowing, by mobilising efforts to ensure that adequate trade finance remains available to exporters. It is trade finance that lubricates the wheels of trade and it has been in short supply and costly in some parts of the world.
We have also lent our support to the fight against protectionist temptations of the kind that inevitably put governments under pressure in times of economic downturn. We have sought to do this by ensuring transparency in the measures taken by them to respond to the crisis. I believe that although the record is not perfect, we have helped to keep significant outbreaks of protectionism at bay. These efforts will become even more importat if there is any faltering in the recovery or if high levels of unemployment persist for too long.
In some economies, including China, stimulus packages have been instrumental in preventing further deterioration in output while paving the way to recovery, even at the cost of inflating public deficits. Many developing countries have not been able to afford bailout packages for their ailing industries or stimulus packages, or the expansion of social safety nets to those who have lost their jobs. Hence, most economies in the world, both developed and developing, urgently need other sources of growth — sustainable engines of growth. This is where trade can be an important part of the story, in the long-run as well as in the short to medium-term. This is certainly a lesson we can draw from China's remarkable export successes.
Trade can be thought of as a stimulus package available to both developed and developing countries. It has to be part and parcel of the economic recovery effort for growth to be sustainable. As I already mentioned, our forecast for 2010 currently shows trade growing by about 10 per cent, around 11 per cent for developing economies and around 7 per cent for developed ones. With the way things are going so far in the global economy, this number may be too small. We will revisit the forecast in a couple of months.
I heard recently an argument according to which during the recovery it would be nonsense to assume that everyone can increase exports. I am sorry. Of course, everyone can increase exports if imports also grow! Thus making the overall resources allocation more efficient which means growth for all. This is why trade expansion can be a low-cost stimulus.
A particularly efficient means of moving in this direction would be the completion of the Doha Development Round. We have been working at the multilateral round of trade negotiations since 2001 — in fact the year that China joined the WTO. Whether it is about generating market access for goods and services through the reduction of obstacles to trade, or levelling the playing field in trade distorting subsidies — whether to agriculture or to fisheries — or providing predictability and transparency to trade, or facilitating trade by cutting red tape, the Doha Round offers untapped opportunities that the global community cannot afford to miss.
Let me turn now specifically to our purpose this morning. We have been accumulating experience over the years on how to improve cooperation with governments in the field of technical cooperation. The primary purpose of this cooperation is to enhance the capacity of countries to participate meaningfully in international trade, and we have come to appreciate more the involvement of academic institutions as partners in these endeavours.
Academic institutions have helped us raise awareness on trade issues in the national context and among young trade officials, so preparing for the future and ensuring a solid base of skills and knowledge for effective decision-making processes. The role of academic institutions is also essential in creating capacity at home through local academic and training programmes. That is why we have embarked on programmes of academic support for capacity building.
With the support of WTO members, the WTO Secretariat has gradually structured a set of programmes aimed at contributing to the development and strengthening of capacities in academic institutions in the field of trade policy, trade law and WTO-related issues. These regional or national activities aim at familiarizing academic communities with the functioning of the multilateral trading system and the specificities of WTO Agreements. They also help in the analysis and discussion of relevant topics and concerns for trading communities. These programmes also create bridges among and between scholars around the world and with the WTO Secretariat.
We seek to transfer ownership to partner institutions and supporting programmes that have a long-term perspective, are sustainable over time, and embody a multiplier effect. In the end, the WTO Secretariat recognizes that it can only contribute in a marginal way, as it only possesses very limited resources. It is only through national universities and research centres, such as the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, that the population at large can access academic education, and that specialized training for trade officials in particular, can be effectively provided.
In 2009, we launched the WTO Chairs Programme, which aims at supporting academic institutions and associated individual scholars from developing countries in course preparation, teaching, research and outreach activities. Fourteen Chairs were allocated on the basis of a competitive bidding process. While we provide direct support to academic institutions from developing countries, the participation in the WTO Chairs Programme will increasingly be open to scholars and academic institutions from developed countries as well. Our aim is to create a network of academic and research institutions to share knowledge and experience.
The WTO Chairs Programme provides financial support for a period of four years to beneficiary institutions, and facilitates continuous interaction between such institutions and their homologues and other think tanks around the world. It will provide students and other stakeholders with a deeper understanding of trade policy issues, disseminate research and information, promote discussion on international trade and trade cooperation, and provide analytical input into the formulation and implementation of trade policy.
During 2009 we also launched a WTO Essay Award for Young Economists. We want to promote research on WTO-related issues among young economists, and to reinforce the relationship between the WTO and the academic community. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage the many students among you to participate by submitting the fruits of your research.
I wish to congratulate the President of the Institute, Mr Sun Haiming, the Vice President Mr Yexing Guo, and the Chair-holder, Professor Zhang Lei, and thank them for their dedication to this programme. Please be sure that we will be there to offer whatever support you may require.
Thank you very much