Procedure : 2013/2740(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0494/2013

Texts tabled :

B7-0494/2013

Debates :

PV 19/11/2013 - 16
CRE 19/11/2013 - 16

Votes :

PV 21/11/2013 - 8.12
CRE 21/11/2013 - 8.12

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2013)0511

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 140kWORD 68k
14.11.2013
PE519.394v01-00
 
B7-0494/2013

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the state of play of the Doha Development Agenda and preparations for the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference (2013/2740(RSP))


Vital Moreira, Pablo Zalba Bidegain on behalf of the Committee on International Trade

European Parliament resolution on the state of play of the Doha Development Agenda and preparations for the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference (2013/2740(RSP))  
B7‑0494/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Doha Ministerial Declaration of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of 14 November 2001,

–   having regard to the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of the WTO of 18 December 2005,

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2006 on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 April 2008 entitled ‘Towards a reform of the World Trade Organisation’(2),

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), in particular those of 9 October 2008(3), 16 December 2009(4), and of 14 September 2011(5),

–   having regard to the Declaration adopted on 29 May 2013 at the 28th session of the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO,

–   having regard to the statements made at the informal meetings of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) of 11 April and 3 June 2013 and at the formal TNC meeting of 22 July 2013,

–   having regard to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals,

–   having regard to the Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade, which took place from 8 to 10 July 2013,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the Doha Round was launched in 2001 with the objectives of creating new trading opportunities, strengthening multilateral trade rules and addressing current imbalances in the trading system by placing the needs and interests of developing countries, and especially of the least developed countries (LDCs), at the heart of the negotiations; whereas these objectives stem from the conviction that a multilateral system based on more just and equitable rules can contribute to fair and free trade at the service of the economic development of all continents and the alleviation of poverty;

B.  whereas the EU has consistently advocated for a strong multilateral rules-based approach to trade, whilst recognising that complementary approaches such as bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements may also foster trade opening, especially by unlocking liberalisation and upgrading rules and disciplines in policy areas tackled less thoroughly in the WTO, and may support the multilateral system, provided such agreements are WTO‑compliant;

C. whereas the WTO and the rules enshrined in the WTO-covered agreements have been instrumental in avoiding fully fledged and widespread protectionism as a response to the most serious financial and economic crisis since the 1930s;

D. whereas open and fair multilateral trade is being constrained more by various non-tariff barriers (NTBs) than by trade tariffs, which are being waived substantially as globalisation progresses;

E.  whereas the WTO Ministerial Meeting to conclude the Doha Round stalled at the end of July 2008;

F.  whereas there have been various attempts and initiatives in the last few years aimed at giving much-needed impetus to the stalled Doha Development Agenda;

G. whereas the Ninth Ministerial WTO Conference will take place in Indonesia from 3 to 6 December 2013;

1.  Reiterates its full commitment to the enduring value of multilateralism, but supports a structural reform of the WTO, which is needed in order better to guarantee an open, fair and non-discriminatory trading system based on shared rules, which takes greater account of the role and interests of SMEs;

2.  Emphasises the systemic importance of achieving an ambitious and balanced outcome at the Ninth Ministerial Conference which would be acceptable to all WTO members and help set the stage for further multilateral negotiations;

3.  Calls for a trade agenda based on free and fair trade for the benefit of all, which should have development at the centre of the process; stresses the importance of taking full account in the negotiations of the special needs and interests of low-income developing countries and LDCs; reiterates the imperative need to ensure that the principle of special and differential treatment (S&DT) constitutes an integral part of all layers of the negotiations, reflecting the varying economic development levels of WTO members as set out in paragraph 44 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration; considers that meaningful S&DT provisions should be made more precise, subject to periodic reviews and targeted;

4.  Believes that trade liberalisation is an important tool to ensure sustainable economic growth and development, but that it needs to be accompanied by appropriate flanking policies encompassing macro- and micro-economic interventions, including budget transparency, fiscal policies and tax equity, administrative simplification, education and training, institutional reforms and social policies, so as to maximise and distribute better the benefits of trade reforms and effectively counterbalance any negative effects;

5.  Stresses that WTO Members have recognised that, as there are still countries that do not have the human, institutional and infrastructural capacity to participate effectively in international trade, the multilateral system needs to be accompanied by improvements in trade capacity, which is an essential complement to the Doha Development Agenda; also believes, however, that assistance for countries seeking to accede to the WTO should continue to be a priority;

6.  Emphasises in this context the successful role that the Aid for Trade Initiative has played; regrets the fact that, for the first time since its launch in 2005, the amount of the commitments was reduced in 2011 because of the financial crisis, which resulted in less support for large economic infrastructure projects, with commitments in the transport and energy sector falling; notes that technical assistance in the field of trade and multilateral initiatives such as the preferential tariff treatment granted under the WTO can help to offset this reduction in commitments; calls on the WTO members, particularly developed countries and emerging economies, to make greater use of this possibility;

7.  Insists on the need to renew the WTO system, taking into account the requirements of SMEs in international trade and the need for simplified rules, in terms of both trade facilitation and international arbitration court systems, in order to avoid the difficulties involved in disputes with customs or trade authorities in some WTO member countries;

8.  Draws attention to the Fourth Aid for Trade Review Conference held in July 2013 in Geneva, which showed the benefits that developing countries gain from global value chains; points, however, to the fact that participants identified trade-related constraints that prevent developing-country firms from linking to or moving up value chains, such as inadequate infrastructure, high transportation and shipping costs, inadequate access to trade finance, inability to attract foreign direct investment, lack of comparative advantage and high market entry costs;

9.  Recognises the importance of the agricultural sector; believes that the EU should support measures addressing genuine food security concerns of developing countries; recalls that, in this connection, the EU should ensure coherence between the various EU policies in the field of external action, as enshrined notably in Articles 205 to 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union, namely development policy and the common commercial policy, taking account of the needs and concerns both of its Member States and of developing countries;

10. Calls on developed countries and emerging economies to follow the example of the EU Everything but Arms initiative, offering the least developed countries (LDCs) 100 % duty‑free, quota-free market access, and to ensure that the LDC services waiver is implemented;

11. Considers that a binding agreement on trade facilitation would bring significant benefits to all WTO members, and in particular to developing countries and to relevant economic operators, by enhancing transparency and legal certainty and reducing the administrative costs and the length of customs procedures, which would in turn enable them to benefit fully from the opportunities provided by the growing prevalence of regional and global supply chains and enable SMEs to take advantage of more open markets; points out that capacity building and technical assistance should continue to be made available to developing countries, in order to enable them to increase their production capacities so that they can benefit from a bigger share of the value added in global value chains;

12. Recalls that a recent EU-commissioned DDA impact study indicates that trade facilitation could be worth as much in economic terms as the gains from goods and services liberalisation put together; recalls that improved customs procedures alone have the potential to add EUR 68 billion a year in world GDP and that for many developing countries trade facilitation would be the main source of gains;

13. Considers that due priority should be given at WTO level to trade and investment barriers that affect the service sectors, including ICT and telecommunications, professional and business services, financial services, e-commerce, construction, retail and distribution; these non-tariff measures, including domestic regulations, ownership restrictions and various crisis measures (including discriminatory provisions in public procurement), are of particular importance given the higher value added of services trade and the EU’s position as the largest exporter of services;

14. Welcomes, therefore, the opening of negotiations on a plurilateral Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), which is in keeping with the Eighth Ministerial Conference’s objective of exploring new ways for the WTO membership to further liberalise trade in services; stresses the EU’s commitment to promoting work in this area and working towards ‘multilateralising’ the TiSA by ensuring that it takes over the definitions, rules and principles forming the core of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); underlines the importance of ensuring that any agreement is ambitious, expanding the coverage and deepening the rules regarding liberalisation of trade in services, while preserving WTO members’ national policy objectives and their right to regulate services of general interest and to take bilateral and plurilateral commitments, and that the outcome is firmly anchored to the WTO architecture;

15. Considers that the transfer of technology can be a vector for economic growth and foster trade; regrets, therefore, the decision to suspend the negotiations on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement, which would have included a set of principles on non-tariff barriers and increased both the range of products covered and the number of countries within its scope; strongly encourages all parties to the negotiations to try to overcome their differences and resume negotiations;

16. Welcomes the revision of the WTO plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) as agreed in March 2012, and recognises the importance of the EU approving the revised GPA before the Ninth Ministerial Conference with a view to its being able to enter into force by 2014; believes that clearer and more stringent rules for award procedures will foster transparency in public procurement and, together with the extended coverage of goods and services and entities, will provide greater opportunities for its signatories; calls on WTO Members, in particular developing countries and current observers of the GPA, to consider joining the agreement, in order to take advantage of the new provisions for developing countries that increase flexibility and to reap its benefits;

17. Is pleased by the positive decision taken in June 2013 to extend the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rules (TRIPS) exemption by another eight years until 1 July 2021 for LDCs, which is a further way of ensuring that the world trading system does not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach but rather takes account of the specificities of each developing country;

18. Encourages the WTO membership to proactively support the WTO’s efforts in establishing effective and efficient working links and deeper cooperation with other international organisations whose work has a bearing on world trade talks, in particular the International Labour Organisation, the World Health Organisation, and the UN and its agencies and bodies, such as the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Development Programme and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD, in order to ensure mutual support and synergies between trade and non-trade concerns; supports efforts aiming for the adoption of international standards and regulatory cooperation;

19. Calls for thorough consideration of the issue of how better to address non-trade concerns under the WTO rules, in order to allow its members to pursue legitimate policy objectives while safeguarding market access; stresses, in this connection, that efforts for the adoption of international standards should be strongly supported, and the necessary aid granted to developing countries to enable them to meet such standards;

20. Is convinced that the failure to differentiate sufficiently between developing countries, in spite of their widely varying economic development levels and specific needs, could be an obstacle to adopting effective measures to benefit these countries in accordance with the stated objective of the Doha Round and is to the detriment of those developing countries that are most in need; urges advanced developing countries to take their share of responsibility already during the current round and to make contributions commensurate with their level of development and sectoral competitiveness;

21. Takes the view that serious consideration should be given to the issue of categorisation or sub-categorisation, not only of developing countries but also of all other WTO members, on the basis of objective criteria which are not exclusively linked to gross national product, with a view to a possible differentiated application of existing agreements or of those under negotiation;

22. Believes that it is vital to conclude the longstanding Doha Round with its development mandate fulfilled; urges all WTO members, therefore, to explore all possible options with that end-goal in mind in order to achieve a balanced result;

23. Insists that the EU should continue to play a leading role in promoting tangible progress in the ongoing WTO negotiations with a view to the full conclusion of the Doha Development Round in the foreseeable future, as well as in facilitating the full participation of LDCs in global trade by acting as a bridge between the various positions of the WTO members;

24. Stresses the crucial importance of the WTO as regards implementing and enforcing binding commitments and resolving trade disputes;

25. Considers that WTO members should nevertheless intensify their efforts in other areas identified by the Doha Ministerial Declaration, such as trade in environmental goods and services, which could significantly contribute to sustainable development and the fight against climate change; calls on WTO members to take note of the APEC List of Environmental Goods; urges the EU to continue pushing for the initiation of an Environmental Technology Agreement aimed at reducing tariffs on environmental technology products and to seek clarification on the legal relationship between WTO rules and multilateral environmental agreements;

26. Calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that Parliament continues to be closely involved in the preparation of the Ninth Ministerial Conference taking place in Bali from 3 to 6 December 2013, is promptly updated and, if necessary, is consulted during the Ministerial Conference; calls on the Commission to continue to make the case to other WTO Members for increasing the importance of the parliamentary dimension of the WTO;

27. Calls on WTO members to ensure democratic legitimacy by strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the WTO; stresses, in this connection, the need to ensure that parliamentarians have better access to trade negotiations and are involved in the formulation and implementation of WTO decisions, and that trade policies are properly scrutinised in the interests of their citizens; calls, therefore, for the establishment of a permanent European parliamentary delegation to the WTO;

28. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Director-General of the WTO.

(1)

OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 155.

(2)

OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 77.

(3)

OJ C 9 E, 15.01.2010, p. 31.

(4)

OJ C 286 E, 22.10.2010, p. 1.

(5)

OJ C 7 E, 10.01.2012, p. 105.

Last updated: 14 November 2013Legal notice