Xinhua Commentary: Safeguard WTO-centered multilateral trading system with confidence, patience

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by Xinhua writers Chen Junxia and Xu Chi

GENEVA, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The World Trade Organization's (WTO) 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) closed Friday at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Through the joint efforts of all WTO members, the MC12 has seen agreements on a number of key issues, demonstrating that multilateralism and the multilateral trading system have great potential and remain the aspiration of the international community as economic globalization is facing headwinds.

The result inspires the international community to further uphold multilateralism and safeguard the multilateral trading system with confidence and patience.

The WTO is an important symbol of multilateralism and is currently being tested by the lingering specter of protectionism. The only way for it to rise up to the challenge is through the united efforts of all to safeguard and improve its multilateral trading system.

Snarling global supply chains indicate that the world needs multilateralism and would suffer catastrophic losses if protectionist moves go unchecked. This has been shown repeatedly throughout history and has been widely acknowledged by the international community.

However, a handful of countries have ignored the fact by pursuing their own interests at the cost of others, inciting populism, disturbing supply chains or industry chains and demonizing other countries on trade issues. These selfish moves go against the trend of the times and deserve to be relegated to the dustbins of history.

The WTO has played an indispensable role in promoting economic globalization and boosting trade development and prosperity. The current multilateral trading system centered around the organization has been the cornerstone of international trade and an essential guarantee for global economic growth.

According to estimates by the WTO, a fragmentation of the global economy could reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by 5 percent.

Therefore, for the world to find common solutions to cross-border challenges and to march towards common development, it is of paramount importance to have faith in the WTO and the multilateral trading system it champions.

What should be done to strengthen the organization?

First, countries worldwide should be patient with multilateral trade negotiations. After all, quite a number of the WTO's mechanisms for promoting free trade and settling disputes were successfully developed through arduous and lengthy negotiations.

As WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, the multilateral system is especially worthy of investment when in a seemingly vulnerable state.

Furthermore, member states need to show their political will and shoulder their due responsibility to address recessions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of deglobalization, as well as to push forward WTO reforms.

Noting the WTO is the only international body governing the rules of trade between nations, the delegation of Indonesia said during the MC12 that the bedrock of the global trading system remains unchanged, calling for updating the WTO rulebook.

A better WTO-centered multilateral trading system is needed. The healthy and sustainable development of the WTO has everything to do with bridging divides and making more contributions by all who care. Enditem

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