WTO: 2016 NEWS ITEMS

DIRECTOR-GENERAL


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Speaking after the G20 Summit, the Director-General said:

“Trade has been at the top of the agenda in Hangzhou. I am heartened by the strong comments I heard from many leaders over the last two days on the importance of global trade to economic recovery. I want to thank China for the welcome focus that they have put on these issues throughout their G20 Presidency.

“The WTO is making good progress in delivering meaningful trade reforms, and I was pleased at the leaders' call to strengthen the WTO, resist protectionism and increase co-operation on trade issues. The leaders also called for the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to enter into force in 2016.

“Notwithstanding this progress, anti-globalization sentiment is growing, often manifested in strong views against trade. This is of particular concern given the context of rising protectionism and sluggish economic and trade growth. So we must act vigorously.

“We need to correct misperceptions about trade in a credible way. Trade actually plays a relatively minor role on job displacement. In fact, the evidence shows that trade is a generator of high quality jobs and sustained economic growth. But, of course, this is no comfort to those who have lost their jobs. We need to clearly acknowledge that trade can cause dislocation and can create uncertainties in some sectors and communities. We need to respond in a targeted and credible manner — including by providing better education, better training and skills development, and adjustment support to the unemployed.

“However, turning inward would simply compromise our efforts towards economic recovery, leading to more unemployment, not less. If we want economies to keep benefitting from trade, we all have a duty to stand up and defend it. The WTO is conducting new research to help balance this debate through a series of reports in 2017. I hope to work with the G20 on this.

“We also need to put a greater focus on inclusiveness in order to spread the benefits of trade more widely. This includes supporting small and medium-sized enterprises to become bigger participants in global trade flows. In addition, we need to continue delivering trade reforms through the WTO. That means dealing with longstanding WTO issues, such as agriculture, and it means deepening discussions on other relevant issues. The leaders raised a range of such issues including steps to support SMEs, promote investment, facilitate services, and support e-commerce.”

The G20 communiqué and annex is available here.

The key paragraphs of the G20 communiqué are as follows:

“Our growth, to be strong, must be reinforced by inclusive, robust and sustainable trade and investment growth. We note with concern the slow growth in trade and investment globally and commit to enhance an open world economy by working towards trade and investment facilitation and liberalization. We recognize the importance of economic diversification and industrial upgrading in developing countries to benefit from more open global markets. We endorse the outcome of the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting held in Shanghai on 9-10 July, and welcome the establishment of the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG). We commit to further strengthen G20 trade and investment cooperation.

We reaffirm our determination to ensure a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization playing the central role in today’s global trade. We reiterate our commitment to shape the post-Nairobi work with development at its center and commit to advancing negotiations on the remaining DDA issues as a matter of priority, including all three pillars of agriculture (i.e. market access, domestic support and export competition), non-agricultural market access, services, development, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and rules. We also note that a range of issues may be of common interest and importance to today’s economy, and thus may be legitimate issues for discussions in the WTO, including those addressed in regional trade arrangements (RTAs) and by the B20. We will work together with all WTO members with a sense of urgency and solidarity and with a view to achieving positive outcomes of the MC11 and beyond and we will work together to further strengthen the WTO.

We commit to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement by the end of 2016 and call on other WTO members to do the same. We note the important role that bilateral and regional trade agreements can play in liberalizing trade and in the development of trade rules, while recognizing the need to ensure they are consistent with WTO rules. We commit to working to ensure our bilateral and regional trade agreements complement the multilateral trading system, and are open, transparent, inclusive and WTO-consistent. WTO-consistent plurilateral trade agreements with broad participation can play an important role in complementing global liberalization initiatives. G20 Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) participants welcome the landing zone achieved in the WTO EGA negotiations, and reaffirm their aim to redouble efforts to bridge remaining gaps and conclude an ambitious, future-oriented EGA that seeks to eliminate tariffs on a broad range of environmental goods by the end of 2016, after finding effective ways to address the core concerns of participants.

We reiterate our opposition to protectionism on trade and investment in all its forms. We extend our commitments to standstill and rollback of protectionist measures till the end of 2018, reaffirm our determination to deliver on them and support the work of the WTO, UNCTAD and OECD in monitoring protectionism. We emphasize that the benefits of trade and open markets must be communicated to the wider public more effectively and accompanied by appropriate domestic policies to ensure that benefits are widely distributed.

We endorse the G20 Strategy for Global Trade Growth, under which the G20 will lead by example to lower trade costs, harness trade and investment policy coherence, boost trade in services, enhance trade finance, promote e-commerce development, and address trade and development. We welcome the World Trade Outlook Indicator released by the WTO as an important leading indicator of global trade. We endorse the G20 Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policymaking, which will help foster an open, transparent and conductive global policy environment for investment.

We also support policies that encourage firms of all sizes, in particular women and youth entrepreneurs, women-led firms and SMEs, to take full advantage of global value chains (GVCs), and that encourage greater participation, value addition and upward mobility in GVCs by developing countries, particularly low-income countries (LICs).We welcome the B20’s interest to strengthen digital trade and other work and take note of it’s initiative on an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP).

We recognize that the structural problems, including excess capacity in some industries, exacerbated by a weak global economic recovery and depressed market demand, have caused a negative impact on trade and workers. We recognize that excess capacity in steel and other industries is a global issue which requires collective responses. We also recognize that subsidies and other types of support from government or government-sponsored institutions can cause market distortions and contribute to global excess capacity and therefore require attention. We commit to enhance communication and cooperation, and take effective steps to address the challenges so as to enhance market function and encourage adjustment. To this end, we call for increased information sharing and cooperation through the formation of a Global Forum on steel excess capacity, to be facilitated by the OECD with the active participation of G20 members and interested OECD members. We look forward to a progress report on the efforts of the Global Forum to the relevant G20 ministers in 2017”.

The B20 policy recommendations are available here.

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