Jake Colvin, chairman of the National Council for Foreign Trade, which represents large multinational corporations, said it was “fundamentally heartening to hear Ambassador Tai reaffirm the administration’s continued commitment to the WTO.”
“This is important and it cannot be taken for granted,” he said. “I would agree with her, and the business community would agree with her, that the organization has to show that it is capable of meeting challenges and that it doesn’t just trade for commerce. “
Richard E. Baldwin, professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, questioned Ms. Tai after her speech. He was excited by the departure of harsh critics from the Trump administration. “I haven’t heard optimism and the WTO say the same sentence for a long time,” he said.
In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington on Thursday, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the WTO, said that despite a deadly trade war, talks about decoupling from the United States and China and pandemic-related shortages, global trade was in fact reaching all-time highs and the multilateral trading system continued to strongly benefit the global economy.
“To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of multilateral trade are greatly exaggerated,” she said. “De-globalization warnings don’t match the evidence, not yet, at least. “
As the organization prepares for its meeting next month, WTO members are divided over whether to grant a waiver that allows countries to bypass intellectual property protections drug companies have on their products. products to produce and distribute coronavirus vaccines more quickly to low-income countries.
Backed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Biden administration has declared its support for the waiver. But he continues to face criticism, both from his supporters who say the administration is not doing enough to provide access to vaccines to poorer countries, and from the business community. , which is concerned about the long-term effects of erosion of intellectual property rights.