WTO Chief Issues Special WSD Message
29 September 2010 -- Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO) has released a special message for the celebration of World Statistics Day, message whose text follows:
"What cannot be properly measured cannot be properly managed" – this aphorism is particularly true for trade negotiations where, at the end of the day, everything boils down to numbers. Statistics do not only help in defining policies, they also shape our way of understanding the world. Having the right numbers on tariffs or trade in merchandise and services is important for setting the regulation of international trade on the right footing.
However, the increasing complexity of today's global economy has blurred many conceptual boundaries. Today, most products are "made in the world" and have many "countries of origin". The traditional trade statistics based on customs data may not always provide the relevant picture needed for factual decision- making.
Similarly, the main barriers to international trade are not so much customs tariffs, which have declined significantly in most countries, but the transaction costs which deteriorate the competitiveness of many countries, and the non-tariff measures which limit access to markets.
The information related to these measures is still very limited, and lacks international comparability. Statistics – and especially international statistics – should therefore keep adapting to the changing world. What is required for measuring international trade and devising trade facilitation programmes in the XXIst Century demand encompassing previously separate fields of statistics. Only then can policy makers come up with a full picture of the economic and social gains of trade – identifying where domestic value added is created and by whom. We will then have the relevant information to place the public debate in the appropriate context .
WTO is one of the nine international agencies that co-organize a conference entitled "Measuring a Globalized World: The Geneva Contribution" to celebrate World Statistics Day in Geneva on 20 October.