DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL JEAN-MARIE PAUGAM
This year's Trade Policy Day focused on the theme of the EU's trade policy in a changing world. The WTO-based multilateral trading system and regional and bilateral agreements feature as an integral part of the EU's new Trade Policy launched last February.
At a panel discussion on EU trade policy in a time of economic transformation and geopolitical instability, Committee members and stakeholders expressed a strong interest in the upcoming Ministerial Conference (MC12), which they view as a key opportunity for the WTO to highlight its role as a multilateral leader and to achieve substantial outcomes.
Speaking alongside EU Director-General for Trade Sabine Weyand and former South African Minister of Trade Rob Davies, DDG Paugam also underscored the importance of MC12 and the need to demonstrate that the WTO can deliver.
“While the world economy is still in recovery from the COVID pandemic, there is a need to provide clear signals at MC12 that the WTO is on the move and trade works for people,” he said, noting the importance of achieving outcomes in areas such as trade and health, agriculture and food security, and e-commerce. He also noted progress in the fisheries negotiations and the strong push from all WTO members to reach a global deal by MC12.
“The WTO acted as an automatic stabilizer in front of geopolitical instability and the COVID crisis, and now it needs to act as an enabler of the world economy and its dual transformation toward digitalization and decarbonization,” DDG Paugam added.
Ms Weyand stressed that discussions on so-called “plurilateral” agreements among groups of WTO members must remain anchored in the WTO and must remain open to all members.
“We need a conversation about a common sense of purpose about the WTO,” she said. “Otherwise we risk block building, and this represents a real risk to the determinant of everybody.”
Within less than a year of the EU releasing its new Trade Policy, the Committee sought to engage trade policy leaders and experts, stakeholders and civil society to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the EU in a time of economic transformation and geopolitical instability.
The Deputy Director-General thanked the EU for its active engagement in the WTO, including within the Trade and Environment Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD). He announced that China and the United States recently joined these discussions, which include an agenda on trade and climate change. He took note of the EU Parliament’s committee vote on the resolution on multilateral negotiations in view of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva.
Watch the recording from the Committee on International Trade here.