Conversation with WTO Director General Candidate The Rt Hon Dr. Liam Fox MP

07/30/2020

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WITA

On Thursday, July 30th WITA hosted a Webinar conversation with WTO Director-General Candidate Liam Fox. Rt Hon Dr. Liam Fox MP is a British politician who has been a staunch advocate for free-trade and a defender of the rules-based global trading system based on the WTO.

WITA Webinar Featuring:

Rt Hon Dr. Liam Fox MP, Former UK Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

Ambassador Rufus Yerxa, President, National Foreign Trade Council, and former Deputy Director-General of the WTO

Wendy Cutler, Vice President, and Managing Director, Washington D.C. office of the Asia Society Policy Institute

Webinar Summary:

As the election cycle for the next Director-General is approaching; WITA has devoted it’s time to interview each of the candidates running for this position. In the past, WITA has interviewed the following candidates: Senior Counsel, King & Spalding LLP, Hamid Mamdouh, AmbassadorJesús Seade, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and today’s webinar Dr. Liam Fox, Former U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade.

This webinar began with Wendy Cutler, Vice President, and Managing Director, Washington D.C. office of the Asia Society Policy Institute. She gave a brief agenda analysis of what’s currently happening in Geneva regarding the current selection process of Director-General, phase 2 ending on September 7th, and an insisting competition of problematic budget and management decisions that will take place on November 7th, 2020. Given this announcement, Wendy Cutler followed up with the following question to the interviewee Dr. Liam Fox. Wendy Cutler asked, “What are your visions on the WTO reform and its development? “

The panelist, Dr. Liam Fox, Former U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, answered this question by stating that the WTO is an excellent organization but, what it doesn’t have is political weight, a fundamental problem of political relevance to its members. Dr. Liam Fox states that there are trade tensions, restrictive measures that we can have businesses as usual; what we need to have is the mechanism of a rule-based system. Dispute mechanisms are the value-added; the United kingdom issues about development 7% of GDP increased the U.K.’s budget for aid.

Dr. Liam Fox stated that women in global commerce would lead the WTO to better economic reform, sustainable development, and better reform the WTO’s global economy. Dr. Liam Fox emphasized that the WTO isn’t a security company, the world bank, nor the united nations; the WTO is an international organization with the aim of a better multilateral trading system for all the member countries. Global economy trade is a means to an end to meet prosperity, political security; “if we don’t give people access to the ability of trade, we shouldn’t be surprised by a possible decline in future prosperity.”

Panelist, Wendy Cutler shared with the interviewee the following statement “according to U.S. Trade Ambassador, Robert E. Lighthizer states the following issues in regards to the World Trade Organization(WTO) anti-Americanism, recognizing fundamental principles of reforms, and understanding that the current WTO rules do not discipline China.” The Panelist, Dr. Liam Fox, responded by stating that to resolve these issues, we have to learn how the WTO operates; fisheries agreements utilize strategic communications in the relevance of WTO with a broader audience. The WTO needs to face everyday challenges, e-commerce, and technology elements, and all the countries’ members should obey the rules.

Moderator: Ambassador, Rufus Yerxa, asked the following question “I was personally part of the Uruguay Round, and I know the challenges that come with dispute resolution” What are your views on disputes settlement within the WTO and the Appellate Body overreaching some of the rules? The panelist, Dr. Liam Fox, responded by stating that we need to tighten up and set new set rules that will benefit the world trade for the member countries.

Lastly, this webinar concluded with a series of questions coming from the audience, specifically in regards to agriculture subsidies and Post-COVID-19 world pandemic within the WTO.