The relevance of WTO in Facing the Challenges of International Trade: Visit of the Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy to Ottawa, Canada, March 25, 2013


Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu visited Ottawa, Canada on 25th March 2013 and met with Minister of International Trade and Minister of Asia Pacific Gateway of Canada, H.E. Edward Fast.

They discussed bilateral developments and exchanged views regarding the role of trade in growth as well as the future of the multilateral trading system of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

All meetings were conducted in a positive environment. Minister Pangestu and Minister Fast highly appreciated the growing importance of Indonesia-Canada bilateral relations. They shared the importance of the commitment to a global rules-based trading system, which is the ultimate goal of the WTO, and the importance of increasing trade for growth, job creation and reducing poverty. Both Minister Mari and Minister Ed Fast agreed that their countries have benefited from the global trading system and that there is a need to continue strengthening the rules based framework of the WTO and make progress on the multilateral negotiations. Both agreed of the need for stronger political will to guide Geneva negotiators to ensure deliverables at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali this December in order to generate momentum and to move on to completing the Doha Development Agenda after the Bali meeting.

They also recognized that different approaches trade opening such as through bilateral and regional agreements as well as a plurilateral agreement such as the one on services currently being discussed, can be viewed as positive progress. That is, they need to be managed so that they remain consistent and complementary to the multilateral trading system. There was also an exchange of views regarding how the WTO should remain relevant by addressing new issues that impact trade such as investment and environment, and continuing to improve its outreach function.

In her official visit to Ottawa, Minister Mari also shared her vision on the trading system and the WTO with Senators and Members of Parliament, government officials, representatives of the private sector and academia, diplomats and other stakeholders in a luncheon discussion. Minister Pangestu highlighted the relevance of WTO in the international trade and the importance to safeguard and monitor global rules. The simplicity of a single framework for global trade, standards and rules is key to ensuring all countries, including small countries and all companies, including SMEs, can participate in global trade. It will also be important for the efficient functioning of the global value chain.

Dr. Pangestu, who served as the Minister for Trade of Indonesia from October 2004 to October 2011, is convinced that a multilateral trading system is a solution to many problems worldwide. “Since its creation, the WTO has helped generate more trade, more growth, more jobs, and more opportunities in the world”, Dr. Pangestu said. “Above all, it has lifted people and nations out of poverty”.

Minister Pangestu is one among four ministers who are candidates for the DG of the WTO. Other than the four ministers, there are five other candidates who are in the race. If elected as the new Director General, Dr. Pangestu would be the first woman to hold the position since the creation of the WTO.

Based on her experience, she understands the importance of inclusion and would ensure that the opportunities from global free trade benefit everyone, men and women, in developed, least developed countries and developing countries, for big business and SMEs.

During the visit to Ottawa, Minister Mari Elka Pangestu was also interviewed by various mass media in Canada, namely Reuters, Canadian Press, Embassy Newsweeklypaper, Ottawa Citizen, Diplomat Magazine, Wall Street Journal; and paid a visit to the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia.

Source: Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa