'WTO agreement to boost global growth, cut poverty'

US President Barack Obama welcomed the multilateral trade agreement, saying it would eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe.

US President Barack Obama. US President Barack Obama.
The first-ever multilateral trade deal in the 20-year history of the WTO would boost global growth, jobs and cut poverty, and would eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped across the globe, world leaders have said.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the multilateral trade agreement, saying it would eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe.

"Small businesses will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system. By some estimates, the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars," said Obama.

The WTO's Bali agreement also represents the rejuvenation of the multilateral trading system that supports millions of American jobs and offers a forum for the robust enforcement of America's trade rights, he said.

In the first-ever agreement reached after the launch of the Doha Round of trade talks, ministers from 159 countries approved the Bali package.

Overcoming a string of failures over the years, the WTO reached the landmark agreement that can help boost global trade by $1 trillion, while taking on board concerns of countries like India to protect its food security scheme to provide subsidised grains to the poor.

Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said the deal would "benefit all WTO members".

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the "historic" agreement could be a "lifeline" for the world's poorest people, as well as benefiting British businesses to the tune of more than $1 billion.

"The breakthrough agreement reached in Bali by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reaffirms the commitment of the international community to an open trade system which boosts global growth and jobs, and cuts poverty," said Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of IMF.

In a statement, Lagarde said she fully support WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo's determination to use this opportunity to move the broader Doha Development Agenda forward, and overcome the significant challenges that still lie ahead.

Influential US Republican Senator Marco Rubio said the successful WTO negotiations in Bali mark an important first step towards reducing global trade barriers in the 21st century.

"American entrepreneurs and workers can compete with anyone on a level economic playing field. Expanding free and fair trade is a national imperative that will create job opportunities for our own people and help others around the world rely less on foreign assistance and benefit more from the free enterprise system," Rubio said.

"While this successful global trade deal is a step in the right direction, we should also continue pursuing regional and bilateral trade agreements  such as the TPP with Asia and Latin America and the TTIP with Europe ? that hold enormous economic promise and where overcoming some of the tougher trade obstacles are more realistic in the shorter term," Rubio said.

Linda Dempsey, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) vice president of International Economic Affairs, agreed with Obama that the WTO agreement will cut red tape at borders throughout the world and boost economic activity.

"Predictable, efficient and transparent customs procedures will help manufacturers in the United States more effectively and efficiently access the 95 per cent of global customers that live outside our borders," she said.

Still, there is more work to do, she argued.

"Manufacturers are highly disappointed by the failure to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). We urge its completion on an expedited basis," said the NAM official.

"Similarly, the extension of the 'Peace Clause' on agricultural subsidies is very concerning and we hope new negotiations will focus on market structures that ultimately can best promote long-term food security.

The actions of a few countries to forestall concrete progress on the ITA expansion and to demand differential treatment only stymie opportunities for global economic growth," Dempsey said.

The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in Bali this week creates binding commitments across 159 (+) WTO Members to expedite movement, release and clearance of goods, improve cooperation among WTO Members on customs matters, and help developing countries fully implement the obligations.

The agreement will increase customs efficiency and effective collection of revenue, and help small businesses access new export opportunities through measures like transparency in customs practices, reduction of documentary requirements, and processing of documents before goods arrive.