Challenging economic prospects that have affected the world within the last ten years are leaving no one indifferent. Recent efforts to boost global business interactions have been that of the World Trade Organisation, WTO and they seem to carry a glimmer of hope. The body has implemented a series of 128 measures to facilitate commercial exchanges among countries. Through a mechanism to reduce procedure in commerce, the WTO reported an increase in merchandise volume of 4.2 per cent in 2017.
The annual report of the Director-General of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo presented on 4 December, 2017 showing fewer trade-restrictive measures from mid-October 2016 to mid-October 2017 compared to the previous year, urges members to “reiterate their commitment to open and mutually beneficial trade as a key driver of economic growth and a major engine for prosperity.” By placing emphasis on more trade-facilitating than trade-restrictive measures, in the context of the expanded Information Technology Agreement (ITA) members noted that business transactions reportedly recorded an amount of around US$ 385 billion.
Observers say the current world context shows that international trade flows have rebounded strongly during the last 12 months after a sharp slowdown in 2016 as a result of acceleration in global trade growth in the first half of the year 2017. Earlier forecast of 2.4 per cent are now being reviewed upwards to 3.6 per cent. However, the WTO Director-General cautioned that; “substantial risks that threaten the world economy remain in place and could easily undermine any trade recovery.” He invited member countries to redouble trade incentives and to refrain from applying new trade-restrictive measures so as to completely reverse any negative trends in economic growth.
Decisions on transparency and predictability in trade remain important for those involved in global trade while efforts towards open and collectively benefits as key drivers to growth were equally qualified as major engines for prosperity.
For obvious reasons, policy unpredictability has characterized most business transactions and for the WTO to succeed in the process of implementing 128 measures to facilitate trade as against 108 restrictive moves by members showed that given a sense of general resolve, trade could witness better prospects in the coming year.
That is certainly why some experts have continued to argue that, «Although trade does cause some economic dislocation in certain communities, its adverse effects should not be overstated – nor should they obscure its benefits in terms of growth, development and job creation. We should see trade as part of the solution to economic difficulties, not part of the problem.” However, some seem to blame innovation, automation, and new technologies for jobs being lost within the manufacturing sector thereby creating an enigma concerning the balance between modern development and human progress. Thus, issues like better education, training and social progress may have to be tackled collectively if business and investors, in general, must break even in today’s modern world.