It is a special pleasure to join Alexei Kireyev, Maika Oshikawa, Maxim Medvedov, Mohammed Haqjo and Mark Linscott today, all highly knowledgeable about the WTO and its accession process, the linkages between trade and peace, and the need for a strong, well-functioning international trading system.
Eurasia has contributed much to the trading system through individual country accessions to the WTO. These countries have been at the leading edge of extending the scope of the WTO’s rules. Acceding countries continue to do so through accessions that are still in process. For these countries the rule book as it applies to them is fresh, not something distant. They will have a keen appreciation of where improvements can be made. They have a special stake in the organization in which they have invested and continue to invest. Eurasian WTO Members have valuable perspectives to offer.
For my remarks today, I want to spend a few moments on why reform is vitally important now, and where the focus of reform efforts needs to be. An illustration of the need for systemic reform can start with a review of what has taken place with respect to the current pandemic.