In the face of the global financial crisis, the Doha Development Round must be concluded as soon as possible, and protectionism and unilateralism must be avoided in order to make trade "the most powerful tool for growth and production", experts told participants in a round table on "International trade as an engine of development".
In opening remarks, moderator Valentine Rugwabiza, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization said that, while the financial crisis had its epicentre in the industrialized economies, its impact was felt everywhere and would also affect international trade. Trade and development were inextricably linked but the benefits of greater integration had not reached everyone. One of the World Trade Organization's objectives was to create a level playing field for all trading partners through fair and equitable rules. A successful conclusion of the Doha Round would offer new opportunities.