UN symposium urges more efforts on multilateralism
The high-level symposium, titled "Strengthening Multilateralism and Multilateral Trading System in the Age of Globalization," has been co-organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Chinese Mission to the UN.
Liu Zhenming, the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, says the gathering is meant to provide an opportunity to consolidate commitments to strengthen multilateralism, and to talk about ways to help create opportunities and deal with some of the challenges of globalization.
"We meet at a time when growing discontent with globalization has contributed to major shifts in trade policies, and when progress towards building a universal, rule-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system is under increasing strain. Ensuring a healthy, functional and efficient multilateral trading system requests a solid reaffirmation of commitments to multilateralism. "
Liu Zhenming's remarks have been echoed by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who also delivered a speech at the symposium.
Amina says a strong resolve is needed to defend the multilateral trading system.
"We cannot take the multilateral trading system for granted. We need to nurture and to strengthen it. At a time when the world economy has been showing a broad base momentum, the introduction of restricted trade policies is certainly a cause for concern. Trade restrictions could undermine confidence and derail global growth; they could hurt business and consumers alike, and erode confidence in the multilateral trading system."
As the co-host of the symposium, China's Ambassador to the UN Ma Zhaoxu has told the session that China stands firmly behind the multilateral trading system and its rules.
"Since its accession to the WTO in 2001, China has honored its commitments across the board, made all its WTO concessions and opened its door wider. As an active response to the WTO's Aid for Trade initiative, China has helped to the best of its abilities other developing countries, especially the least developed countries (LDCs)."
Ma Zhaoxu has also told the symposium that steps are being taken to try to balance China's level of trade with other countries.
"China does not seek trade surplus; we have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve greater balance of international payments under the current account. We hope developed countries will stop imposing restrictions on normal and reasonable trade of high-tech products and relax export controls on such trade with China."
The high-level symposium has brought together chief economists from the UN, scholars from Columbia University, as well as other ambassadors to the UN.