Remarks by United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk at the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting Session, "Keeping Markets Open for Trade and Investment"

"Keeping Markets Open for Trade and Investment"

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial
June 25, 2009
Paris, France

It's my pleasure to join you for the first time at the OECD. Now, all of us are here because the OECD has a critical role to play in helping us advance our shared agenda of ensuring a strong and dynamic global trading system that can generate sustained economic growth and overcome the challenges of this current global economic crisis.

For example, the recent OECD Participants agreements to extend terms and make repayment profiles more flexible for nuclear and renewable energy production projects are a major policy success. They create strong financial incentives for investments in energy sources that can help us achieve our broader energy security and CO2 reduction objectives. We should all be proud of this collective accomplishment.

We should also encourage the OECD to enhance its positive and supportive work on intellectual property. Adequate and effective IPR protection and enforcement is critical to innovation and economic development. And this should be reflected fully in ongoing discussions with accession candidates, as well as in OECD projects such as the Innovation Strategy.

But despite some stabilization of financial markets, concerns about the near-term performance of the world economy continue to be pervasive. The World Bank just released growth estimates for the world economy for this year, forecasting a 2.9 percent decline in global output and a 4.2 percent decline in the output OECD countries. Most developing, as well as developed, countries are being affected. And while many now foresee some recovery, the timing, strength and extent remain uncertain.

The response to the financial and economic crisis itself has been global. This is not a North-South issue. In the United States, we continue to be engaged in a number of very large scale efforts to stabilize our markets and help restore growth to our economy and, by extension, the world's economy. Other countries are also engaged in similar efforts. But in an open and integrated economy, such steps at the national level, particularly when reinforced by appropriate policy action, are central to restoration of global economic health.

Now, I am keenly aware of the contraction in world trade now occurring. The WTO estimates that global trade will decline by 9 percent this year, the sharpest decline since the Second World War. And though trade may be contracting, however, economic recovery will mean that trade will have to expand. Thus, it is imperative, in this time of economic turmoil, that we work together to keep our markets open. As our WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy has stated, trade can and should be a potent tool to help lift the world out of this economic doldrum.

At the national level, we need to work to keep vigilant about how we respond to this economic crisis. We think the last WTO report on responses to the crisis actually shows the situation better than some predicted. And we thank the WTO for giving us a rules-based system to review procedures and the very visible individual monitoring of countries that is needed.

At the global level, all of us here today, OECD Members and observers, must commit to reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion to the Doha Development Round and build on the progress already made and find new approaches to make substantial progress toward the conclusion of the Round. Successful conclusion of the Doha Round can be a critical element for reviving trade and breathing new life into the world's economies. And we need to build on our multilateral efforts through direct, bilateral engagement with one another to move to the final phase of negotiations as quickly as possible. What better way is there to assure that trade once again becomes an engine of growth and better economic futures for all than the conclusion of this important multilateral round?

We all know that the economic situation demands a Doha outcome that delivers for all the world new and real market opportunities. The United States is ready to do our part. President Obama and I are fully committed to achieving an ambitious and balanced Doha outcome. And I invite all of you to join us in the upcoming weeks to explore ways to move forward to a successful conclusion.