31 Jan 2013

Groser decries diminishing relevance of WTO

4:20 pm on 31 January 2013

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser has decried the diminishing relevance of the World Trade Organisation which is seeking to become head of.

Mr Groser was interviewed in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday for the top job in world trade as director-general.

He told journalists after the interview that the WTO is not in a state of crisis, but the stalled Doha round of world trade talks which it sponsors means it is struggling to remain relevant to progress in world trade.

"If we never advance the frontier of the rules that we negotiated now 19 years ago, this institution will suffer defeat eventually that many multi-lateral institutions face which is, they don't disappear - they're just not the go-to place."

The 157-country organisation is in danger of being sidelined by other organisations or negotiations, he said.

Mr Groser faces stiff competition from candidates from developing countries which have never held the top job in world trade and make up the bulk of the membership.

He said he is committed to reviving the WTO despite New Zealand's championing of regional free trade talks such as the TransPacific Partnership.