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Landmark WTO Agreement


Director-General Roberto Azevedo gestures as he is congratulated by delegates after the closing ceremony of the ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua, Bali.

"This new deal," said President Barack Obama, "and particularly the new trade facilitation agreement, will eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe."

The World Trade Organization announced at its meeting in Bali, Indonesia, that it has agreed to the first fully multilateral trade agreement in its near 20 year history.


"This new deal," said President Barack Obama, "and particularly the new trade facilitation agreement, will eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe." He added, “By some estimates, the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.”

The agreement will simplify customs procedures by reducing costs and improving their speed and efficiency. It will be a legally binding agreement and is one of the biggest reforms of the WTO since its establishment in 1995.

WTO members also have agreed to provide developing country Members, which may be in danger of breaching their trade-distorting domestic support limits for programs related to public stockholding of food, freedom from legal challenge. That will give them time to bring their domestic support policies in line with their WTO commitments, subject to strict conditions to prevent abuse.

In the interim period, the decision made in Bali will also allow WTO countries to consider all trade-related aspects of food security.

"People all around the world," said WTO Director-General Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo, "will benefit from the [the WTO agreement]: the businesses community; the unemployed and the underemployed; the poor; those who rely on food security schemes; developing country farmers; developing country cotton growers; and the least-developed economies as a whole."

"But beyond that," said Mr. Azevedo, "we have reinforced our ability to support growth and development; we have strengthened this organization; and we have bolstered the cause of multilateralism itself."

The agreement will be particularly important for small businesses around the globe. Under the new agreement, small businesses, including those in the United States, seeking to break into global markets and increase export opportunities will be able to do so, thanks to faster, simpler, and less costly access to 159 economies, once the new agreement is implemented.

"Small businesses," said President Obama, "will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system."
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