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Pakistan joins WTO bloc to further free trade

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday joined a group of 41 developing and developed countries to support a multilateral trading system for global economic stability, prosperity and development.
The rare block emerged in the wake of recent trade restrictive measures by US President Donald Trump.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dr Tauqir Shah told Dawn that the country has played a key role to put together this group in support of a multilateral system.
He said Pakistan is the founding member of the global system and played an important role in the past negotiations. “We will continue to play our part in promoting rules-based multilateral trading system,” Shah added. The members welcomed the marked recovery of world merchandise trade in 2017, to which all regions contributed, and are encouraged by the WTO’s positive forecast for the next two years.
However, the members are concerned about increased trade tensions and related risks for the multilateral system and world trade. “We encourage WTO members to refrain from taking protectionist measures and to avoid risks of escalation. We call on states to resolve their differences through dialogue and cooperation, including through WTO bodies and, as appropriate, recourse to our dispute settlement,” said the joint statement released.
The members consider that action is needed to address major challenges facing the WTO. “We particularly note difficulties in concluding negotiations and divergent positions on trade and development.”
With respect to the dispute settlement mechanism, the importance of immediately filling all current and future vacancies on the appellate body was emphasised. “We underline the necessity for members to contribute to keeping the organisation effective, relevant and responsive to representative states’ needs, and we commit to continue working with them to improve WTO,” added the statement.
Members include Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hong Kong China, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Viet Nam.
Source: Dawn