(From L to R) Uruguay's President Tabare Vazquez, Brazil's President Michel Temer, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes attend the opening ceremony of the 11th WTO (World Trade Organization) Ministerial Conference, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 10, 2017. The 11th WTO (World Trade Organization) Ministerial Conference opened here Sunday with an emphasis on open and multilateral trade. (Xinhua/Martin Zabala)
BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- The 11th WTO (World Trade Organization) Ministerial Conference opened here Sunday with an emphasis on open and multilateral trade.
"The more open and flexible we are, the greater possibilities of success we will have," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in his opening remarks.
"We must take advantage of the opportunity to focus (on) our future work, taking into account the context in which we live ... with the latent threat of protectionism," Azevedo told the meeting.
At the opening ceremony, Argentine President Mauricio Macri called on WTO members to promote "multilateralism, fair trade based on clear rules."
"We know the benefits have not yet reached all and this has led to questioning of economic globalization. It is the responsibility of all to face the challenges of the 21st century. Argentina wants to contribute to securing growth. We believe this can only be done by working together," said Macri.
Macri said that the WTO has played an important role in the global economic governance system over the past 20 years.
However, he warned that "the benefits of regional and global trade must reach ever more people. The challenges are many, and it is not sustainable to move ahead with a scheme where some are protectionist and others don't follow the rules."
Brazilian President Michel Temer also called for safeguarding the multilateral trade system.
"The system of multilateral trade has shown its use and remains able at decisive moments to contain protectionist tendencies," Temer said. "It must be preserved and valued. It is an illusion to think that protectionism is the path for development."
Macri, Temer, along with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, also issued a joint declaration to reaffirm the importance of the multilateral trading system.
The meeting to last till Wednesday will bring together trade officials from 164 WTO members to discuss how to optimize the rules of global trade.
China on Saturday encouraged WTO members to safeguard multilateral trade and jointly build an open global economy.
Speaking to a round table on China's program for less developed countries known as the "China Program" during a WTO summit in Buenos Aires, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said that China will promote the creation of a new configuration of integral opening-up, firmly support the multilateral trade regime and encourage the construction of a global open economy.