by Xinhua writer Zhang Zhengfu
BRUSSELS, March 15 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said on Friday that the multilateral trading system had "completely lost momentum" and a new way must be found to restore it.
Speaking in an interview with Xinhua, Groser, on his world trip to campaign for the World Trade Organization's (WTO) top job, said, "We've completely lost momentum and we need to find the momentum again."
The minister has seen a rise of regionalism in terms of free trade agreements, most recently exemplified by the announcement of the European Union (EU) and the United States to launch free trade agreement talks.
"I have no problem with regional agreements," but the "decreasing relevance" of multilateral trading system is an indication of the problems facing the WTO, he said.
"The WTO is still the main player in international trade, but it hasn't done anything for nearly 20 years, although it has taken some small steps forward," Groser said.
He lamented the lack of progress in reaching multilateral trade agreements since 1994, saying, "We have to do something about this."
Groser described the job of WTO director-general as "extremely difficult to do well," which needs someone who is able to play the role of political leader and is "technically proficient."
While admitting that "there is no simple solution" to the current stalling multilateral trade talks, he urged all stakeholders to first "navigate successfully the meeting in Bali at the end of this year."
"Even if this is a big success, there is still a mountain to climb," he added.
"The only solution can come from very discrete and constructive conversations at different levels of power in the system, most certainly including the most powerful countries," he said.
Groser highlighted "creativity" as an important requirement for the new WTO chief, who will have to "try and suggest a new way to construct the conversation and negotiations, which will offer more promise and re-establish momentum."