MEP's draft "mandate" for WTO talks Bali round: ease trade flows, more focus on SMEs, push for services deal
In the EP's draft "mandate" for next round of world's trade liberalization talks to be held in Indonesia from 3-6 December, the EP's committee on International Trade outlines demands for what should be pushed for on behalf of the EU — a "trade facilitation" deal to ease world's trade flows, services liberalization pact, more focus on the interests of small and medium firms, focus on development interests and more role for parliaments.
Accelerate world trade flow
Faster flow of goods across borders is of benefit for all, including developing countries, say MEPs by quoting a recent EU-commissioned study that estimates world GDP gain of 68 billion a year to be gained from improved customs procedures alone. To that end, they push for a binding agreement on "trade facilitation" that would reduce red tape, enhance legal certainty, reduce the amount of time goods are kept in transit and the length of customs procedures.
Push for services liberalization
As the biggest exporter of services worldwide, the EU has a special interest in advancing liberalization of global trade in services, such as information and communication technology and telecommunication services, business services, financial services, e-commerce, construction and retail. This is an area of huge potential for EU service providers.
They also stress their support for talks on Plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement, as an alternative to the stalled global service liberalization talks. Trade in services worldwide is hindered by "non-tariff barriers", such as domestic regulations, ownership restrictions or discriminatory provisions in sectors such as public procurement.
More role for SMEs
Trade MEPs reiterate their full commitment to "multilateralism" whilst at the same time argue for a "structural reform of the WTO", to better guarantee an "open, fair and non-discriminatory trading system based on shared rules", and more focus on the interests of small and medium businesses who are less well equipped to take advantage of trading opportunities than large multinationals.
Focus on development
MEPs in their draft mandate stress once again their belief in "free and fair trade for the benefit of all" which would mean putting development interests at the centre by taking account of the needs of low-income and least developed countries and also a more differentiated approach to developing countries.
Breakthrough in Bali vital
MEPs also stress the necessity of achieving tangible results at the Bali Ministerial conference in currently stalled world trade talks. They insist that the EU should take lead to promote progress to fully conclude the Doha Development Round following more than a decade of negotiations. They argue that the EU should act as a bridge between the various positions of the WTO Members.
More role for parliaments
The text calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure the EP is promptly updated and, if needed, consulted during the Bali WTO Ministerial Conference and also calls the Commission to "make the case to the other WTO Members for increasing the importance of the parliamentary dimension of the WTO". They believe the democratic legitimacy of WTO should be enhanced by strengthening the parliamentary dimension and ensuring better access for parliamentarians to trade talks and WTO decision-making.
The current global multilateral trade talks which are being conducted in the framework of the WTO are considered to be stalled since 2008 when its members failed to agree on the "Doha Development Agenda" - single, encompassing agreement to ease the world trade in interests of development. The Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference - topmost body of the WTO – will meet in Bali from 3-6 December with another attempt to "break the Doha deadlock".
The EU Commission negotiates on behalf of the European Union, authorised by the Council.