Mexico desirous for Australian support for WTO bid: Ambassador Peña

BYYasir Rehman


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Eduardo Peña, the Ambassador of Mexico to Australia is seeking Australian support for the Mexican candidacy for the WTO to fend off the spectre of unilateralism, coercion and confrontation as both friendly nations strongly believe in rules-based international order.

“Multilateral trading system currently faces one of its greatest historical challenges. The emergence of unilateral protectionist measures, the weakening of multilateral institutions and the economic crisis as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, among others, threaten its stability and permanence”, he argued in an op-ed.

He said that both Mexico and Australia have benefited greatly from a rules-based international order, and reap the advantages of an open trade system. As the Australian Minister for Trade, Simon Birmingham, recently acknowledged, one in five Australian jobs relies on trade, and trade has given a boost of at least 5 per cent to the Australian GDP in the last thirty years.

Ambassador Eduardo Peña

Highlighting the success story of Mexican economy, Ambassador Peña said that Mexico has successfully transitioned from a resource-based to an export-based economy during the second half of the twentieth century. Mexico is the first exporter of manufactures in Latin America and the Caribbean, and trade with the US, our largest commercial partner, is around 614.54 billion USD a year, more than 1 million dollars per
minute.

It is worthy to mention that Mexico has one of the broadest trade networks of the world, with 14 Free Trade Agreements covering over 50 countries. Furthermore, as a diverse and multicultural society that maintains peaceful relations with the rest of the world, Mexico is committed to dialogue and to the development of alliances that can offer solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

“It is in this context that my country has endorsed the candidacy of Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Jesús Seade Kuri. to occupy the post of Director General of the World Trade Organization. As the premier forum of its kind and being a cornerstone of the multilateral trading system, its proper functioning is a prerequisite to maintain an open, rules-based trading environment.

Referring the challenges and difficulties being faced by the international trade body, he said that WTO faces the great challenge of reaffirming its relevance in negotiations, after 25 years of very limited progress. In this regard, it is fair to say that the WTO is facing its greatest challenge since its creation. This is why it should seek to complete important negotiations on both traditional issues (such as distortionary domestic support and market access in agriculture) and 21st century topics, such as rules for electronic commerce.

Furthermore, the WTO needs to re-establish a functional dispute-settlement mechanism, and to establish procedures to allow timely transparency in the fulfilment of rights and obligations. without them, it is impossible to reach fair solutions that have universal acceptance.

Dr Seade, currently the Deputy Minister for North America at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was chief negotiator of the agreements that established the WTO; founding deputy director general of WTO; and chief negotiator in the difficult Mexico-U.S.-Canada Agreement (USMCA), recently completed.

Furthermore, he has experience in senior positions of two international economic agencies critical to global governance: The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Dr. Jesus while presenting his work plan at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva

Last week, during the presentation of his work plan at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, he vowed to be “an effective interlocutor, close to all members to the north and south, east and west, and to be fully equidistant from all”, a task that is certainly daunting, but for which he is fully qualified.

The strengthening of the multilateral trading system will be fundamental to countries like Mexico and Australia to offset the economic impact caused by the current pandemic, as well as to ensure the continuation of the rules-based international order that is a source of peace and prosperity.

Ambassador Peña hoped that Australia will support the Mexican candidacy for the WTO, as a like-minded country whose prospects depend so much on the existence of an open and reliable trading system. At a critical juncture like the one the world currently faces, only strong multilateral institutions, like the ones that Mr Seade advocates, can fend off the spectre of unilateralism, coercion and confrontation.

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