Let’s prioritise economic growth and trade

The current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have roughly a thousand days to go before their end-2015 target date. The significance of the MDGs lies first and foremost in the fact that they gave the world a shared development agenda.

They identified a set of shared goals around which we could collectively mobilise and they established time-bound goalposts for progress, many with quantifiable targets, against which we could measure our performance.

But beyond these targets and goals, the MDGs placed poverty reduction at the top of the global agenda. In doing so, they reshaped policy priorities, galvanising the attention and interest of governments, international organisations, the private sector, and individuals.

Economic growth and trade — as a driver of growth — deserve a prominent place in the development agenda. We need an agenda that integrates economic growth with social inclusion and with environmental protection.

We need a transformational agenda which creates jobs, develops infrastructures, raises productivity, improves competitiveness and promotes sustainable production and consumption’.

Strengthening international co-operation in the area of trade is an important element in achieving this agenda. Improving the broad economic and policy environment in which developing countries produce and trade is an area in which global co-operation has to keep playing a constructive role. And I think this is where the efforts to conclude a WTO deal on trade facilitation come into play.

Catalysing efforts such as trade facilitation would prove particularly advantageous over the next few years as more trade-led growth could create virtuous circles with other priorities as we look post-2015.

Collectively we must plan for a common destination for the post-2015 development agenda. We need a compass that has countries converging around the same destination.

We may not have yet eradicated poverty, but the world today is a better place for many more billions of people than it was in 2000 when the MDGs were launched.

For sure, absolute poverty reduction has not reduced inequalities which have grown, during the same period, within many countries.

We should learn from this experience, from what we did right and what could have been done better to build a common post-2015 development agenda for the benefit of all citizens.

Mr Lamy is the World Trade Organisation Director General