The role of rules based multilateral trading system led by WTO has become more crucial in paving a level playing field for its members, in particular for small economies such as Sri Lanka, said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen in his message to the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference held from 10th to 13th December in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Minister Bathiudeen’s speech was delivered to the ministerial delegation by Sheitha Senarathne, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce who led the Lankan delegation.
“Slow growth in trade, challenges from the digital transformation, attracting FDI, level of unemployment, access to trade financing and sustainable development are some of the great challenges that many developing countries encounter today,” said Minister Bathiudeen and added: “The Director General of WTO, Roberto Azevêdohas once stated that trade has proven to be one of the best anti-poverty, pro-growth and pro-development tools in history. The question is how we maintain such positive role of trade and derived the desired benefits in this challenging multilateral trading environment. Members from developing countries while making every effort to align our policies with our multilateral commitments, expect WTO to play a role of the facilitator of our development goals.
“Such win-win situation is the key success factor for achieving Sustainable Development Goals ensuring our meaningful and sustainable integration into the world trading system. In this regard, the role of WTO as an enabler of making necessary technical and capacity development assistance for small economies, particularly in the areas of aid for trade, transfer of technology, trade facilitation, trade finance and development, are crucial. Such assistance has proven positive gains facilitating way for better integration in to the world trade. Sri Lanka considers international trade as the engine of her economic growth.
“The country’s geographical location, conducive business environment complemented with a knowledge-based society has offered competitive strengths to the country and its trading partners. The growth strategies are therefore, aimed at participatory approach to sustainable development creating opportunities for international trade.”
At this Ministerial Conference the Sri Lankan delegation also included R.D.S. Kumararatne, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the WTO and Gothami Silva and officials from the Department of Commerce.