|Issue:||Latin America II 1998|
|Topic:||Beyond Trade and Economics|
|Organisation:||World Trade Organisation (WTO)|
Renato Ruggiero is the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, a young organisation established on January 1st, 1995, which provides the legal and institutional foundation of the multilateral trading system. It is the platform on which trade relations among countries evolve through collective debate, negotiation and adjudication. Mr. Ruggiero was chiefly responsible for the successful conclusion of the WTO Agreement on Basic Telecommunications Services which came into effect in March this year.
I would like to welcome you to the Second quarter edition of “Connect-World Latin America”, a series of important articles written by key figures in the telecommunications field with the aim of acting as a forum for the discussion of developments within this sector in Latin America. This year, 1998, marks the 15th anniversary of the multilateral trading system – a system that has provided an astonishingly durable basis for the expansion of trade and wealth worldwide, and continues to provide a powerful contribution to stability and prosperity in the future. It is a fitting tribute to the dynamism of this system that it marked its Golden Jubilee year with a new landmark Agreement on Basic Telecommunications Services, which came into force in February of this year. The 72 WTO member governments, which have agreed to open their domestic markets to foreign companies, account for nearly 93% of the total domestic and international revenue of US$600 billion generated in this sector annually. This Agreement promotes liberalisation, and it enhances certainty, security and predictability through a clear set of negotiated rules. This is particularly valuable at a time when rapid growth and technological development are changing the face of the telecommunications industry. Conclusion But most important of all, from a longer-term perspective, this Agreement goes well beyond trade and economics. It makes access to knowledge easier. It gives nations large and small, rich and poor, better opportunities to prepare for the challenges of the 21st century. Information and knowledge, after all, are the raw materials for growth and development in our globalised world.