The first ever candidate from Central Amercan country Costa Rica comes knocking on India’s door for seeking support for her intention to head World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Speaking to FE Anabel Gonzalez,minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica,told FE,”India is a key member of the WTO plays a very important role in WTO,hence I am here to seek government of India’s support. I have had a meeting with the minister of trade and commerce Anand Sharma at various foras including Davos during the World Economic Forum and in today’s meeting have updated him about my candidacy to Director General of the WTO.”
Responding to a question,Gonzalez said that,”So far I have met with 130 members of the WTO and given India’s leadership in the WTO,it was important for me to come here and to discuss the future of the organisation. I would like to get support of not only as many members but also from different parts of the world,and in this regard it will be an honour if I get the support from India.”
“I believe India is a key member in the WTO and has exercised leadership position for many years and also represented the position of many developing countries. India has had a strong active consistent participation in various negotiations and in this regard it is important that I get support from India and other countries,” she said.
As Costa Ricas minister of trade and a candidate to be the next head of the WTO,witnessed the power of trade in her own country,which she says transformed itself from an exporter of four or five basic commodities to an exporter of more than 4,300 products including coffee and bananas but also computer parts.
I have a desire to contribute at a greater level and to unleash the power trade for the benefit of all WTO members,but in particular for the benefit of developing country members, she adds.
As for the Doha Round,visiting minister says she believes it remains a high priority for WTO members.
I am aware of the strong skepticism about the future of Doha,but the fact that it has been difficult to reach agreement does not mean the issues are not important. There are elements of Doha that will not go away, she says.
She says that she sees the next WTO ministerial meeting,in Bali,Indonesia in December as a great opportunity to make progress on trade facilitation,that is,the simplification and harmonization of international trade procedures.
Trade facilitation,she says,is an important topic in itself but also a way for WTO members to send a strong signal about members’ renewed sense of confidence in the ability to reach agreements.
Gonzalez,who has been a former director of the WTO’s Agriculture and Commodities Division observes that the WTO does not require any major overhaul. “It is clear that the WTO performs a number of functions that are working very well – the dispute settlement function,the monitoring function,the trade capacity building,and coordination with other institutions are all working well.”
If selected as a DG,she says she would be to bring closure to the Doha negotiations. “The negotiating function,which is the core function of the WTO market opening and the developing of new rules – has been stalled because of Doha. We need to address this issue,because it is having a very negative impact on the credibility of the organization”.
One short-term objective that would almost certainly help turn things around,if she is successful,is the WTO’s next ministerial meeting in Bali,Indonesia,in December.
“Bali is a very important step. If we are successful in reaching agreement on trade facilitation and other issues,this will bring a renewed sense of confidence in the members’ ability to reach agreements. If Bali is successful,we could and should come back to Doha,to bring closure to these negotiations”,Gonzalez said.
The ministerial in Indonesia stands as the first major challenge for the nine candidates – three of them women – to become the next Director General. With much of the groundwork already laid,the main challenge will be one of leadership; a quality that Gonzalez believes she has developed over a career as a politician,adviser,WTO official,consultant and ambassador. “I have spent three years in the WTO; three as a government minister; worked as a negotiator in talks with the US,China,and the EU; was a senior adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank and an academic,” she points out.
“Thus,all these different experiences give me a comprehensive vision”,she said. “It will allow me to hit the floor running,in the sense that I’ve been there,done that,and so I know what needs to be done”.