For many years, Germany has been one of the leading nations in the international trade of goods and services. Many sectors in Germany are heavily dependent on exports: one in two jobs in Germany is in an export-driven sector and trade with foreign business partners accounts for approx. a third of German companies' sales.

Over the past few decades, we in Germany have seen that our successful foreign trade has brought us greater prosperity. Free trade is generating a great deal of employment and economic growth in our country. This is why Germany has long been an advocate of open markets and trade liberalisation based on a clear set of predictable, multilateral rules. Further trade liberalisation is of essence to securing Germany's future as an industrial hub.

Globalisation in the economic sphere has the potential to offer everyone the opportunity to share in the benefits of world trade, i. e. greater prosperity. This is why the German Government was pleased to see that the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) succeeded in launching a new world trade round in Doha in 2001. The now 160 members of the WTO want to use these broad-based negotiations to secure a comprehensive deal which will see trade barriers removed across the world, multilateral trading standards improved and more universally applied, and new objectives including sustainable development taken into account. The Trade Facilitation Agreement, which seeks to streamline customs procedures and was concluded at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013, marks the first milestone on this road.