EU Statement at the Informal Trade Negotiations Committee and Informal HODs meeting, 4 May 2022

(Source: EEAS)

Statement delivered by Ambassador João Aguiar Machado

We are now five weeks away from MC12. Despite extremely difficult geopolitical context, the European Union believes that Members need to continue to show commitment to the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its centre and work towards achieving a meaningful package of results at MC12 so that the multilateral track continues to be relevant.

At this stage, for the European Union the outcome of such a package could include the following elements:

  • Firstly, an outcome document that would refer to the WTO’s response to global trade challenges. This would include language launching discussions on WTO reform with a view to achieving outcomes by MC13, including a fully functioning WTO dispute settlement, as well as language on development and the environment.
  • Secondly, a declaration on the WTO’s response to the pandemic along with a decision on the intellectual property aspects (discussed under the ‘TRIPS waiver’ heading).
  • Thirdly, on agriculture, a set of multilateral commitments made up of transparency elements including transparency on export restrictions and on stocks, a commitment on avoiding export restrictions on food consistent with WTO rules, and the World Food Program decision. These are the most immediately relevant elements, which are already on the table. We should also be able to agree on work programmes for the continuation of negotiations across all agricultural issues, on trade distorting domestic support, public stockholding, and transparency improvements in particular.
  • Fourthly, the extension of the e-commerce and TRIPS moratorium until MC13;
  • And fifthly, the conclusion of the fisheries subsidies negotiations. It is time for the conclusion of these negotiations; it is now or never. Negotiations have been ongoing for more than 20 years. We have heard that several Members are attached to the WTO’s negotiating function, but if we don’t conclude these negotiations now, we will be failing the multilateral negotiating function, and we would be failing to protect the global commons and the relevance of the WTO. Now is the time to conclude. There are different views about the graphs shown by the Chair at this meeting, but they are quite revealing of where the center of gravity is, and it is time for the extremes to move to the center.

We need to have clarity both on the MC12 agenda and on the process needed to generate the outcomes in each of these areas. You, Madame Chair, and the Chair of the General Council have set out today a path forward for the coming weeks.  We need full clarity on the process for each of these key issues by the time of the next General Council. We will not have further time to discuss processes. After that, we have to get on with the  work. At the same time, it is clear that we are living in a situation that is not business as usual and therefore we cannot have business as usual. This should be duly taken account in the processes that need to be set up to harvest multilateral results. It will also be important for yourself, Madame Director General, to be directly involved in helping Members attain meaningful results on the key issues. We should aim to take stock and reach as much agreement as possible on all key elements of the MC12 agenda by the end of May to know how we are positioned for when ministers disembark in Geneva two weeks later.

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