Vote results and texts adopted will be added when available.
Participating at the final session of the 11th biannual ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström expressed her disappointment at the failure of the Ministerial Conference to deliver any multilateral outcomes.
Brussels, 13 December 2017- Yesterday, Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, Hiroshige Seko, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative, agreed to strengthen trilateral cooperation in the WTO and other forums in order to battle unfair trade. European Aluminium, the voice of the entire aluminium value chain, welcomes the new commitment.
Today, the European Parliament adopted for the first time and by a very large majority a digital trade strategy. Its Members, representing all political groups apart from the extremes, call for international trade rules to deliver tangible benefits for consumers, to dismantle the digital obstacles faced by European companies in third countries and to promote worldwide respect for fundamental rights. To this end, they ask for the inclusion in the EU’s trade agreements of rock-solid provisions in line with EU law, in particular on personal data protection, forced data localisation, net neutrality, roaming and intellectual property.
On 11 December, development ministers discussed and adopted conclusions on the updated strategy on aid for trade, as presented in the Commission communication of November 2017 “Achieving prosperity through trade and investment: updating the 2007 joint EU strategy on aid for trade”.
Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan are in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Conference, that brings together trade leaders from all WTO states on a biennial basis, will focus on several areas on which multilateral negotiations have been ongoing. These include farming and fisheries subsidies, regulations on services and e-commerce, transparency between the administrations of WTO members, benefits for small and medium-sized companies as well as issues related to horizontal subsidies.
Multilateralism has been at the core of global trade governance since the end of World War II. The multilateral trading system, first under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and subsequently in the World Trade Organization (WTO), has managed to increasingly integrate countries’ economies over time and tempered unilateral approaches to international trade. The WTO also has an effective Dispute Settlement System and has recently shown that it can deliver multilateral results, namely the 2013 Trade Facilitation Agreement and the 2015 Nairobi Package. The WTO, however, has failed to conclude the 2001 Doha Development Round of trade negotiations and has been unable to address new trade issues that have arisen since its creation in 1995. This has led many countries to pursue bilateral, regional and plurilateral trade agreements outside the multilateral framework. The worldwide rise of protectionism also threatens the WTO’s objective of free trade. This is exemplified by the election as United States President of Donald Trump, who has called the WTO ‘a disaster’ and whose policies could severely undermine WTO legitimacy. The EU nevertheless continues to strongly support the multilateral trading system, as it benefits from the WTO’s rules-based system that supports free trade. At the same time, the EU views bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements as complementary approaches to the WTO and is thus actively pursuing agreements along both avenues. Finally, the EU is also actively involved in settling disputes before the WTO, including with the USA. The European Parliament has expressed its support for this approach.