UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is to make a historic address to the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) next week, the UN said…reports Asian Lite News
Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the UN Information Service in Geneva, said that Guterres “will stress the importance of preserving the multilateral rules-based order, including on trade, for a fair globalization and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
The General Council is the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, which meets regularly to carry out the functions of the organization and will meet on May 7-8.
WTO officials said it is unusual for a UN General Secretary to address the General Council which is usually made up of ambassadors from all member governments and with the authority to act on behalf of the ministerial conference held almost every year.
On October 1, 2014, then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the WTO Public Forum in Geneva, but this is not a decision-forming body of the organization.
The UN announcement came on the same day that WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo addressed a meeting of the full WTO membership where he described the risks posed by current global trade tensions, which he said are already affecting trade growth.
The WTO said he gave an update on an ongoing debate on WTO reform, including the current impasse in appointments to the Appellate Body which members warned will paralyse the body due to the refusal by the US to allow the process to proceed.
“The systemic threats we face demand action from us all. I commend members for the commitment and engagement that we have seen so far this year, and for your efforts to resolve these issues,” said Azevedo.
“But it is clear to me that we need to do much more if we are to truly rise to the historic challenge before us. Our actions over the coming months will be crucial,” he said.
While in Geneva from May 8-10, the UN said Guterres will attend the spring meeting of the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB).