The heads of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) met in Geneva Friday to strengthen cooperation in promoting the global economy.
"This is the second year in a row that the heads of the IMF andthe World Bank have traveled to Geneva to attend a WTO meeting on coherence," WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi said when welcoming IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato Figaredo and World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn.
Cooperation among the three major international economic institutions has never been more critical, said Supachai.
At the last coherence meeting, WTO members encouraged the threebodies to focus cooperation on three areas in particular -- policyanalysis and advice, technical assistance and adjustment assistance.
And Supachai listed three concrete areas in which progress is being made -- the Trade Integration Mechanism, the Cotton Initiative and Trade Facilitation.
The Trade Integration Mechanism is a new IMF policy which formulates that financial assistance would be available to low-income developing countries to help them cope with adjustment difficulties arising from loss of trade preferences in the new round of global trade talks, as well as from the elimination of textiles quotas at the beginning of next year.
The current task in this area is for the WTO Secretariat to continue working with IMF staff to help WTO members to evaluate the opportunities presented by the Mechanism, said Supachai.
As to the cotton issue, the WTO chief asked the IMF and the World Bank to redouble their efforts to see how existing programs can be directed towards development in those economies where cotton is vitally important.
Trade Facilitation is a new negotiation area launched this summer by WTO members, in which the IMF and the World Bank are invited to cooperate with the WTO to make technical assistance andcapacity building more effective and operational.
"The World Bank, in particular, has done excellent work in examining the costs of excessive red-tape for developing countriestrying to encourage trade and investment, and I think this is an area where there is huge potential for synergy among our institutions," said Supachai.