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 Full text 
Wednesday, 28 November 2018 - Brussels Revised edition

WTO: the way forward (debate)

  Linda McAvan, deputising for the rapporteur for the opinion of the DEVE Committee. – Mr President, I’m speaking tonight on behalf of Lola Sánchez, who was the rapporteur for opinion in the Committee on Development (DEVE).

There are two key messages from our committee which tie in with what people have already said. The first is that, yes, we need a rules-based system, but this is particularly important for developing countries, because in a multilateral system they’ve got a better chance of getting a level playing field, of getting a seat at the table and having their voice heard, unlike in bilateral deals where bigger economies can call the shots.

Secondly, our key message is that the multilateral trade system must be fair to all countries including the least developed countries (LDCs) and be set in the context of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Free trade alone will not be enough to lift all boats, and so we need trade agreements which are broadly based, cover human rights, social and environmental aspects, and not just tariffs and trade liberalisation issues.

We also need concrete steps to deliver on this agenda, like supporting the UN process to negotiate a UN binding treaty on business and human rights, and we need initiatives on the value chains that Bernd Lange spoke about. We have two areas where we could make quick progress: the first is cocoa and the second is textiles. These are areas where there is a growing mood to get something done, and I think we could work with businesses and Member States to get things done. Otherwise, we’re going to see national legislation and patchworks of national laws instead of having an EU law.

Last updated: 5 April 2019Legal notice