WASHINGTON – American businesses could benefit more from a multilateral trading system and need the World Trade Organization “today as much as ever,” WTO Director-General Robert Azevedo told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday.

Director-General Roberto Azevedo. Image from the World Trade Organization.

Director-General Roberto Azevedo, image from the World Trade Organization.

“America has led the way” in the multilateral trading system in the past, Azevedo said, but “there is a lot of work to be done.”

Multilateral trade would allow companies to access remote markets and compete freely, according to the WTO. At the 2013 Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, members of the WTO unanimously voted to endorse the first multilateral trade agreement since the organization was set up in 1995.

The Agreement on Trade Facilitation “promises to streamline the passage of goods across borders by cutting red tape and bureaucracy,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The agreement includes opportunities for technical assistance and construction resources to facilitate trade.

Global trade has increased from $58 billion to $22 trillion over the past 66 years. The Chamber of Commerce said that this is due to eight influential multilateral negotiating systems.

“It is clear to me that the WTO needs America; it is also clear that America needs the WTO,” Azevedo said.

While the partnership between the Chamber and the WTO concentrates on this form of multilateral trade, according to Azevedo, it also focuses on expanding the Information Technology Agreement, which delivers innovative technology to all parts of the world, and launching negotiations on environmental goods trading to eliminate tariffs on “green” products.