Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley believes that open and equitable trade must be at the centre of the new world order.
And she has challenged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be in the vanguard to bring about the necessary change.
Ms. Mottley, speaking at the inaugural Presidential Lecture Series on the topic: Reinventing the Global Order, maintained that the WTO must have a seat at the table to ensure that trade barriers were not blocking the successful attempts by small island developing states (SIDS) to address these challenges.
She pointed out that the organisation was “born into a world of trade in manufacture and tariffs and it has an inheritance from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that has to be confronted if we are to move away from the old colonial order and create opportunities for fairness among those countries and people of the world who need our protection the most”.
The Prime Minister stressed: “We need to deal with the fact that the trade in services and the next generation barriers to trade must be confronted. We need the next generation WTO to be the countervailing force to the discriminatory, distortionary, inequitable rules and barriers to the international trade in services.”
While some countries mounted crusades and established rules and standards for others to follow, Ms. Mottley suggested that there needs to be a strong representative voice that monitors and values the impact of international trade, and speak up in its defence.
To reflect the next generation WTO, the Prime Minister has challenged it to show a reinvigorated defence of the inequitable trading system by establishing a high-level committee to ask “whether the war on money laundering, the war on tax evasion, the war on the climate crisis or any of these well-intentioned campaigns have not inadvertently become a war on developing country exporters, or a war on small island states exporters”.
“And if so, how can we introduce measures that ensure that we address all the ailments we are trying to address without prejudicing equitable trade. My message to you today is simple, the stakes have never been higher; our people are dependent on us more than ever…,” Ms. Mottley stressed.
She also mentioned the obstacles facing small exporters from SIDS such as digital gaps, shortage of supporting financing mechanisms, and discriminatory standards in financial transactions.
The Prime Minister touched on the challenges posed by the climate crisis on SIDS, and the need for more mobile labour, capital and technology, and to be a part of the digital revolution.
“We need to be a part of the digital revolution to deliver better health, education and a better quality of life, and we need to listen to the voice of labour who represents our citizens…. International trade is at the centre of solving the climate crisis problem and the use of digital trade is critical if we are to advance in global development,” Ms. Mottley stated.