Davos 2022: WTO and US trade chiefs say much needs to be done to build trade back better

Fri 21 Jan 2022
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Tackling current supply chain challenges could help to combat global economic inequalities, according to World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Speaking at a special session at the World Economic Forum’s online Davos Agenda 2022 summit, she said disruptions in the global economy presented an opportunity to diversify supply chains to developing countries that have not benefited from previous waves of globalisation.

“We see shifts to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and so on in our data and I call it a way of re-globalising and using this globalisation and supply chain to solve some of the inequality problems,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Green and digital

The WTO chief predicted that the future of trade will be digital and green.

“For that, we need to strengthen our multilateral systems. We have frameworks but the frameworks need to be strengthened,” she added.

US trade representative Katherine Tai told the event that the world can’t “return to normalcy” and that key to this will be to strengthen and diversify supply chains.

Learn from pandemic

“It is time for us to acknowledge that our goal really shouldn’t be to try to go back to the way the world was, say in 2019, but to take lessons, very hard earned lessons, very painful lessons that we have experienced over the past two years and take this opportunity to build toward something that is different and better,” Tai said.

According to the chairman of ports giant DP World, also speaking at the Forum, building back from the pandemic could take one to two years from the time it ends, reports The National.

Even if the pandemic were to end today, “it will take another two years for the supply chain to adjust, to be able to remove the backlog cargo out over the ships into the customer’s hand,” he said.