The leaders of five of the world's most influential multilateral agencies have met to discuss the need for greater trade cooperation in order to address challenges facing the world and its economy.
The chiefs of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have met with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss how to make trade and globalization more inclusive.
With global economic activity expected to rise this year and world trade ticking upwards accordingly, the organizations are keen to address the dangers posed by increasing protectionist tendencies and to assuage the problems of those whose jobs have been lost due to globalization, automation or other technological advances.
The leaders cited the importance of the multilateral trading system, spearheaded by the WTO, in creating new growth, employment and development opportunities, with bilateral and regional free trade agreements also playing a role. The benefits of these deals in promoting sustainable supply chains and responsible business conduct was also noted.
Attendees said such efforts need to go hand-in-hand with policies to enhance education and training, as well as new social policies that can help bring the unemployed back into the job market.
WTO director general Roberto Azevedo particularly emphasized the need to posit greater global cooperation and multilateralism as the solution to current problems, as he noted that the protectionist solutions many are proposing would in fact do more harm than good.
He said: "We need to recognize that many people out there hold a negative view about globalization and trade. We need to work hard to make sure that the benefits of trade are more widely held, but we must not lose sight of the immense gains that trade has brought to people around the world."