Permit me to briefly outline four key priorities that we can
contemplate for international cooperation on the trade and
Key priority one: The multilateral trading system
must be equipped to respond adequately to issues of trade and
sustainability. In this regard, fora such as the World Trade
Organization (WTO) must be utilized, consistent with their relevant
mandate. For example, WTO members must uphold the principle of
transparency which underpins the organization with respect to their
measures, policies, and programmes designed to combat climate change and
promote sustainability. This includes transparency with respect to
carbon taxes, industrial policies, and incentives. Where rule-making is
possible and desirable or even mandated, such as with respect to trade
in environmental goods and services, then rule-making should be pursued.
Where there can be sharing of good and best practices, then this should
also be pursued. Where we need to facilitate technology transfer,
especially to developing and least developed countries, then we must
also ensure that WTO rules can facilitate, rather than hinder, this from
taking place. In short, there is a major role for the WTO and it is for
the membership to act.
Key priority two: International cooperation can be
used to build and promote the circular economy, especially in those
spaces, such as among small-island developing states (SIDS), where there
is a lack of technical and financial capacity. International
cooperation can help establish common standards and practices for
sustainable production and consumption, and provide adequate avenues for
SIDS to develop the capacity to become major players with respect to
the circular economy.
Key priority three: The reform of
the global financial architecture and environment to better facilitate
climate financing, especially for SIDS, is also an imperative. This is
underscored in the Bridgetown Initiative
which seeks to set an agenda for reform of the global financial
architecture and development finance in the context of the intersecting
global crises of debt and climate. Too many SIDS currently do not
qualify for concessional financing due to the application of criteria
such as gross national income per capita. This has the net effect of
undermining the special case of many SIDS for sustainable development.
Meanwhile, countries with the financial muscle are rolling out green
industrial policies to the tune of billions of dollars which will likely
allow them a massive advantage when it comes to global trade in green
goods and services. International cooperation must help to level the
playing field for all countries.
This then takes me to the fourth key priority which
is a call for fairness and justice with respect to global action on
trade and climate. In this regard, international cooperation has to
enfranchise the disenfranchised. Here, we are talking of coalescing
around an agenda for inclusive growth and fair trade. This agenda would
demand that no one be left behind—no country and no individual. This
would require a shift in thinking and behaviour, away from the classical
zero sum model of economic competition to one of economic cooperation
with sustainable development for all at the core.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.
Hon. Keisal Peters is Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.