Interview: Moldova's WTO candidate urges new, inclusive digital trade rules

Updated: August 10, 2020 Source:
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The candidate of the Republic of Moldova for the top post of World Trade Organization (WTO) called for more digital inclusiveness for least developed and developing countries and said international rulemaking on e-commerce could not wait any longer.

Tudor Ulianovschi, an experienced diplomat, said that if picked as the next Director-General of the Geneva-based global trade body, he would "not waste time" and focus "on achieving concrete results."

"We have all entered a new post-pandemic era, where effects of the global economic crisis will be felt," he told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"That is why the WTO's role should be further consolidated and its future Director-General should actively engage and identify keys to win-win solutions, regardless of the level of tension or of the difficulty of the issues."

Ulianovschi has over 16 years of experience in diplomatic service and previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova.

Before that, he served as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva and to the WTO.

During his mandate in Geneva, he also worked as Chairman of the WTO's Committee on Balance-of-Payments and President of Trade and Development Board at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Ulianovschi said he was a firm believer in the multilateral trading system.

"We are all witnesses of the fact that the WTO is facing unprecedented challenging times being at the cross-roads," he said.

He said reinvigorating the negotiations within the multilateral trading system, safeguarding and improving the WTO's dispute settlement system and reinforcing compliance with notifications obligations, as well as boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of the WTO's monitoring and transparency function, were crucial.

The incumbent WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo announced in May that he would resign from the post on Aug. 31, a year before his term expires.

Ulianovschi, however, urged that the WTO should be modernized in the digital world.

"Digital trade has proven to be a critical issue in the current crisis and its development would contribute to building resilience and crisis response in the future," he said. "In this process we have to be fully aware of the issue of capacity and we need to make sure that this process should be inclusive."

"International rulemaking through the WTO on e-commerce cannot wait any longer. Digital transformation became a necessity following COVID's wake up call and the WTO is in the position to respond to current realities," he noted.

Ulianovschi added that targeted assistance should be provided to least developed countries and developing countries to build capacity and assist them to fully integrate into the global trading system.

Eight candidates are battling to succeed Azevedo and have made their pitches to the General Council.

The second phase of the selection process in which the candidates "make themselves known to members" will end on Sept. 7, and then the General Council chairperson will consult with all WTO members before making the final decision.

Editor: 于慧宸