Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley says a new trade agenda which is fair and works for the entire world is required.
Ms. Mottley expressed this view today as she participated in the UNCTAD 15 Ministerial Roundtable, under the theme: Scaling Up Financing for Development.
She told her audience: “We need a new world, trading in new ways. We need a new trade agenda…that is fair and level, yet supports development…. The tools and mechanisms of international trade systems are really out-of-date….
“To rescue the international system, we need a new trade agenda that works for the whole world…. And without that, the international system, regrettably, will become irrelevant to our people. It will break down and the consequences will be severe….”
The Prime Minister noted that the bulk of trade was no longer crossing airports or sea ports, but the internet, with the new world trade being increasingly driven into a few channels controlled by the technology giants. She proffered that the gateway to the world was now through these private oligopolies.
Additionally, she said the greatest privatisation of trade infrastructure was being witnessed and there was no regulatory framework to ensure trade and development. Therefore, she said the conference was an opportunity to shape an emerging regulatory framework for the new trade.
Ms. Mottley told the global meeting that freer trade in agriculture had brought cheaper food and an explosion of non-communicable diseases in developing countries.
“We need a framework around nutrition security, not just food security…, that allows governments to promote better health without falling foul of our trade rules….Too many of our people are depending on processed foods in order to stay alive, which is then costing us more and more money in our healthcare systems,” she indicated.
She noted that while there was an international agreement on trade rules, an increasing amount of financial flows were being determined by an informal framework of lists on uncooperative jurisdictions and anti-money laundering. She indicated these lists, which were designed to name and shame countries, were derived arbitrarily.
“…It means that money laundering and tax avoidance centres, however, are now protected in wealthy countries that produce the lists, but are never listed. Amazing! We need a rules-based system, internationally agreed and impartially applied on the publication of lists that restrict trade and finance. What we have now, Secretary- General, is a system of bullying, that is not… pro-development,” she insisted.
Ms. Mottley again said there was a need to set up new institutions for the global distribution of critical public goods, including vaccines.