As the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali enters its final negotiation stage, Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General and Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, made the following statement:
“A deal on trade facilitation should be a low-hanging fruit to benefit millions of people all around the world. By cutting red tape and boosting access to critical trade information, for example, such a deal would reduce the costs of trade between countries, help small traders get their goods to markets and improve transparency and good governance.
“This is especially important for Africa with its 54 nations – several of them landlocked – where the current, complicated procedures of transporting goods across borders increase costs, reduce productivity and hinder regional trade. I therefore urge all nations to make every effort to reach an agreement on the facilitation of trade at the meeting in Bali this week.
“More to the point, such a deal is the best hope we have for keeping global trade discussions alive. If we do not get a deal in Bali, then we face the risk that rich countries focus on trade deals between themselves, thereby excluding lower income countries who need this trade the most.”
Photo credit: World Trade Organization