15 Dec 2015
FIRST EU COUNCIL CONCLUSIONS ON THE 10TH WTO MINISTERAL CONFERENCE – 15 DECEMBERBrussels
WTO Ministerial Conference
The Council held an opening session in the margins of the 10th World Trade Organisation ministerial conference in Nairobi. It adopted conclusions (see below), setting out the EU’s position.
Obtaining an agreement at the conference will be important in order to bolster trust and confidence in the multilateral trading system. For the EU, this should involve continued negotiations on remaining issues under the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda. It should also involve the addition of new items in the WTO negotiating agenda. The Council called on all members to concentrate on those issues that are realistically achievable.
The ministerial conference is scheduled to continue until 18 December. The Council and its Trade Policy Committee remain on standby to hold further meetings on the spot, in the light of developments.
EU-Canada trade negotiations
The Council decided to declassify the directives given to the Commission to negotiate a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada.
The draft agreement was finalised in September 2014. Legal scrubbing and translation are currently underway, with a view to signature, ratification and conclusion.
First EU Council conclusions on the 10th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference
- In line with the EU’s new trade and investment policy, the Council reiterates that the EU remains fully committed to a strong, rules-based multilateral trading system and supports the further strengthening of the multilateral system, including dispute settlement as one of its central pillars, on the basis of a robust and effective WTO that responds to current and future global trade challenges, and which better reflects the capacities of other WTO members to contribute to the system. The EU is committed to exploring ways to make the negotiating arm of the multilateral trading system work better in the future.
- A successful WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi with concrete, balanced and meaningful outcomes and an agreement to continue negotiations on remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and to consider the addition of new items in the WTO negotiating agenda will be important to foster trust and confidence in the multilateral trading system. To this end, the EU calls on all WTO members to concentrate on those issues that are realistically achievable in Nairobi.
- Following the positive achievements of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in 2013 and the ratification by the EU of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the EU now expects other WTO partners which have not yet done so to fulfil all the required procedural steps without delay, so that companies, in particular in developing countries, can experience the tangible benefits of the TFA as soon as possible.
- The Council recalls that the EU had been leading efforts aimed at preparing a comprehensive outcome on key elements of the Doha Development Agenda in time for MC10. Unfortunately this could not be achieved. In this context, the Council welcomes the EU efforts towards a balanced and comprehensive outcome on all forms of export support in agriculture (export subsidies, export credits, agriculture exporting State Trading Enterprises and food aid) as a response to the long-standing demands and to the benefit of many countries, notably developing and least-developed countries.
- The EU remains committed to a positive outcome on development and transparency in the WTO. The Council highlights the progress achieved on the development aspects, ahead of the MC10, in particular the Decision by the TRIPS Council on 6 November 2015 regarding the extension until at least 1 January 2033 of the transitional period concerning certain obligations related to pharmaceutical products for LDCs, the submission by the EU regarding the LDC Services waiver on 18 November, and a possible solution on preferential rules of origin for LDCs, which would provide for a meaningful contribution to the development package for the Conference.
- The EU warmly welcomes the accession of Liberia and Afghanistan to the WTO and recalls its commitment to support the accession of LDCs to the WTO in accordance with the relevant WTO guidelines.
- The EU looks forward to the conclusion of the negotiations on the revised Information Technology Agreement (ITA), and to further progress on the list of products under the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA), given the expected contribution of these agreements to stronger global trade and to more growth and jobs in the EU and beyond, and as building blocks for future multilateral agreements.
- The Council supports the Commission in its efforts in order to make the Conference a success. It will assess the progress made with a view to reaching a balanced outcome in line with the conditions set out above. To this end, the Council looks forward to the Commission’s proposals for EU negotiating positions on draft texts discussed within the WTO. It also looks forward to the submission by the Commission of the WTO negotiated texts for Council approval on behalf of the EU before their final adoption by the WTO bodies.