South Africa’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) ambassador Xavier Carim has warned in a powerful speech the new rules set down by the WTO could be redundant if the organisation does not cast its focus on issues around development aimed at fuelling anti-globalisation.

His words were heard at this week’s WTO three-day Public Forum which had a theme that centred on Trade 2030 in reference to the goal year of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Carim, who had to dash back to South Africa early this week, had his speech delivered by South African WTO mission counsellor Vahini Naidu in which he said that the current crisis time should be used to get the WTO’s agenda supporting development back on track.

“We all recognise the WTO is facing its most serious challenges,” said Carim who had up until last year served as chair of the WTO’s general council.

Speakers at the session advocated a sustainable, socially just, democratic multilateral trading system as essential. They said that for multilateralism to regain momentum, it must fulfil its promise of an inclusive trading system that results in shared prosperity.

“We have all seen the series of trade measures over 2018 that have undercut basic rules and principles of the WTO, and we confront a growing and unprecedented threat to the dispute settlement mechanism with the impasse in the appellate body selection process,” said the South African diplomat.

From this month going forward WTO’s highest court is set to have only three judges on its roster after the US formally objected in late August to the reappointment of a current appellate body member for a second term and members of the organisation.

During a late August meeting of the dispute settlement body, the US said its objection to Mauritian judge Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing’s reappointment was “no reflection of any one individual but reflects our principled concerns,” regarding the appellate body’s alleged “disregard for the rules set by WTO members”.

The Saturday Star