ISLAMABAD  - Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has called upon the member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure speedy implementation of pending decisions to promote multilateral trade regime.

Speaking at a WTO mini-ministerial meeting held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEC) in Davos, Switzerland the other day, Khurram Dastagir said that it was important for credibility of multilateral trade system that we focus on implementation and the real challenge is implementation of pending decisions.”

The meeting was hosted by the Swiss government and it set the future agenda for the WTO. Only 25 out of the 164 WTO members were invited to the selected gathering and Pakistan was the only participant from South Asia as India, though invited stayed away.

Other participants included: USA, EU, Argentina, Canada, Turkey, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, Russia, Norway, Australia, Mexico, South Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Kenya, Indonesia and Costa Rica.

Pakistan was invited for the first time since 2007. “We have pending agenda of Bali ministerial, particularly Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), and now we have to ensure speedy and immaculate implementation of Nairobi ministerial decisions,” Khurram Dastagir said.

The minister informed the meeting that market access and removal of trade-distorting domestic support in agriculture was pending agenda. He urged all members to positively engage with these challenges in spirit of Nairobi ministerial decisions.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, and there was a need to integrate them in the global market, he said, and requested WTO members to mainstream this important area.

The minister mentioned five areas where WTO needs to work, including focus on regular work to ensure implementation, negotiations for market access and development-oriented outcomes, and making dispute settlement mechanism more efficient.

The minister said trade policy review mechanism was an opportunity to look at inequality within the countries and world over. A joint 2015 report of WTO and World Bank gave insights to some of the challenges faced by poor developing countries.

The coherence mandate of the WTO for global economic policymaking also required adequate attention and more joint publications should be encouraged in collaboration with other UN institutions on all dimensions of economic development.

Dastgir said trade was the most effective tool of development, progress and social change. Multilateralism was the best way to address inequality and global challenges in world of trade.

“We need a robust post-Nairobi dialogue keeping in view all perspectives on development, growth and trade,” the Minister said.

He further stated, “I would encourage all Geneva-based delegates to remain engaged on the basis of the progress achieved in Nairobi.”

The WTO was the only institution which provided countries the opportunity to work on agriculture subsidies, production and trade distortion. “We cannot afford any failure to address these distortions,” the Minister maintained.