unctad.org | Trade matters, because people matter, says UNCTAD’s Joakim Reiter
Trade matters, because people matter, says UNCTAD’s Joakim Reiter
24 November 2016
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Trade is benefiting more people than ever before, but the trade community must do more to protect the vulnerable and to include more people in the global trading system, UNCTAD’s Deputy Secretary-General Joakim Reiter said.

Talking at a commemorative event to mark the 100th session of the WTO’s Committee on Trade and Development, Mr. Reiter highlighted the fact that in 2015 trade accounted for 30% of global GDP, up from 20% two decades ago.

Also, five decades ago, developing and transition economies accounted for less than a quarter of global trade. Today, they account for nearly half.

“We have never traded as much as we do today,” he said. “More than ever, our individual destinies are tied to the destiny of others.”

This trade-driven transformation has helped with a massive reduction of poverty around the world. In just 20 years, nearly one billion people have been lifted out of poverty.

Despite these achievements, however, trade – and possibly globalization – have increasingly come under fire, especially in developed countries.

To some extent, this was not a surprise. “We always knew that trade created winners and losers. But we focused more on telling the story of the winners and neglected the reality of the losers,” he said.

The international trade community must do a better job of addressing concerns about trade, including among those who have not yet benefitted.

Mr. Reiter underlined that for trade to deliver the maximum benefits, it needs complementary policies such as competition policy, consumer protection, skills development, and more.

Trade in bananas 
quoteTrade matters, because people matter ...
We should not care about trade for the sake of trade, but because it has the power to transform the lives of people and their standards of living.quote
Joakim Reiter
Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD

More people - especially the poorest among us - must also be given better opportunities to take part in trade, Mr. Reiter said, noting among other things the potential of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, e-commerce, and the value of ending harmful fishing subsidies.


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