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Multilateralism in international trade: Reforming the WTO

22-10-2018

Since its establishment in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has embodied the multilateral trading system. Despite successes in some areas, including the effective settlement of numerous trade disputes and the conclusion of new multilateral trade agreements, the WTO currently faces serious challenges to its legitimacy and its effective functioning. Of particular concern is the US blockage of new appointments to the WTO’s Appellate Body (AB), which fulfils a key role in the WTO dispute settlement ...

Since its establishment in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has embodied the multilateral trading system. Despite successes in some areas, including the effective settlement of numerous trade disputes and the conclusion of new multilateral trade agreements, the WTO currently faces serious challenges to its legitimacy and its effective functioning. Of particular concern is the US blockage of new appointments to the WTO’s Appellate Body (AB), which fulfils a key role in the WTO dispute settlement system. This impasse could soon paralyse the practical enforcement of multilateral trade rules, which would undermine the rules-based system. In addition, certain countries’ contentious trade practices cannot be addressed under existing WTO rules, and rules on transparency are not fully complied with. The WTO has also had limited success in adding new issues to its trade agenda, and the 2001 Doha round was inconclusive. This has led many countries to pursue their own trade agreements outside the WTO’s multilateral framework. The EU is a key supporter of the multilateral trading system and seeks to address the challenges that the WTO faces. In September 2018, the Commission published a concept paper on WTO reform, in particular in the areas of rule-making, regular work and transparency, and dispute settlement. Other countries have also been working on WTO reform, sometimes together with the EU. A meeting of 13 WTO members, including the EU, to discuss reform proposals is due to take place in Canada on 24 and 25 October 2018. The European Parliament strongly supports the multilateral trading system and has expressed its support for efforts to reform the WTO. Parliament’s International Trade Committee is currently drafting an own-initiative report on the matter. This is a further update of a briefing published in December 2017.

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights - September 2018

10-09-2018

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

President Trump's trade and international policies

31-08-2018

US President Donald Trump has pushed ahead in recent months with his controversial policies on trade and defence, which critics say could undermine the global rules-based order and create new uncertainties. The European Union's trade spat with the US eased somewhat following a meeting of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with Trump in July. However, the NATO summit earlier that month and Trump's subsequent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin did little to reassure the EU ...

US President Donald Trump has pushed ahead in recent months with his controversial policies on trade and defence, which critics say could undermine the global rules-based order and create new uncertainties. The European Union's trade spat with the US eased somewhat following a meeting of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with Trump in July. However, the NATO summit earlier that month and Trump's subsequent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin did little to reassure the EU about the stability of transatlantic relations. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports published by international think tanks on President Trump's policy moves, focusing on relations with Europe, Russia, China and trade. It does not cover reports on Iran, North Korea and the US domestic situation, which will be topics of future issues of What think tanks are thinking.

International trade and the G7 [What Think Tanks are thinking]

29-06-2018

The escalating trade conflict between the United States and other countries and regions, such as China and the European Union, coupled with a capricious outcome of the recent summit of the world’s seven most industrialised economies (G7) have raised a question mark over the US’s continued commitment to the stability of the post-Cold War, rules-based international economic and political order. The row, which is already affecting stock and bond markets, started when US President Donald Trump imposed ...

The escalating trade conflict between the United States and other countries and regions, such as China and the European Union, coupled with a capricious outcome of the recent summit of the world’s seven most industrialised economies (G7) have raised a question mark over the US’s continued commitment to the stability of the post-Cold War, rules-based international economic and political order. The row, which is already affecting stock and bond markets, started when US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports this year, under his ‘America First’ policy. Now that China and the EU have applied retaliatory tariffs, President Trump threatens to erect more trade barriers, for example against EU-made cars. This note offers links to a series of recent commentaries and reports from major international think tanks and research institutes on the trade conflict, the outcome of the G7 meeting and the future of the international economic order. More reports on international trade can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are thinking' published in March 2018.

Protectionism and international diplomacy

25-06-2018

Just three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall signifying the end of Cold War aggression and the ascendancy of international liberalism, the world faces even greater uncertainty. In every region of the world, geopolitical shifts are taking place that have brought offensive trade agendas to the fore. The US has withdrawn from underwriting the post-World War Two international economic and foreign policy architecture, instead proposing to build a wall between itself and neighbouring Mexico, imposing ...

Just three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall signifying the end of Cold War aggression and the ascendancy of international liberalism, the world faces even greater uncertainty. In every region of the world, geopolitical shifts are taking place that have brought offensive trade agendas to the fore. The US has withdrawn from underwriting the post-World War Two international economic and foreign policy architecture, instead proposing to build a wall between itself and neighbouring Mexico, imposing unilateral tariff increases while refusing to negotiate new international agreements. In Europe, the project of ever greater integration has been attacked by Brexit, as well as other populist sentiment against the perceived power of EU institutions and the forces of globalisation. The breakdown of the western coalition advocating global governance has left a power vacuum that other key players such as China are forced to respond to. These current tectonic shifts in power and foreign policy positions impact on every country and every individual in the early 21st century. While many governments strive to maintain international cooperation and further integration, it is an unpredictable era. For trade policy has established itself firmly within the arena of high foreign diplomacy and as a result, traditional assumptions and adherence to international norms can no longer be assumed in such a state of political and economic flux. Yet when trade policy becomes a tool of diplomacy and foreign policy, sound economic reasoning can be lost to political decision making. This report shines a spotlight on the rise of protectionism in the 21st century. It examines the diplomatic dynamics behind economic nationalism and its attack on the established liberal international institutions that were created after the second World War to settle disputes without recourse to war. Before focusing on the US, UK, EU and China, the first chapter centers on the threat to economic integration and cooperation in promoting sustainable development through the multilateral rules-based system established under the World Trade Organization.

Autore esterno

Ms Kamala DAWAR

The EU’s Market Access Strategy: does it reach its main goals?

13-12-2017

The EU Market Access Strategy (MAS) and associated Market Access Partnership (MAP) is a EU trade policy operational instrument designed to identify and remove market access restrictions confronting EU firms in third country export markets. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a steady increase in the number of trade restricting measures imposed by EU trading partners. The MAS is a key tool through which the EU seeks to work with third countries to prevent, remove and reduce market access ...

The EU Market Access Strategy (MAS) and associated Market Access Partnership (MAP) is a EU trade policy operational instrument designed to identify and remove market access restrictions confronting EU firms in third country export markets. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a steady increase in the number of trade restricting measures imposed by EU trading partners. The MAS is a key tool through which the EU seeks to work with third countries to prevent, remove and reduce market access barriers. There is broad support for the MAS among stakeholders who are aware of the mechanism and a virtual consensus that greater emphasis should be given by the European Union to identifying and removing barriers to trade and investment in third countries. Two types of challenges confront the MAS and, as a result, its effectiveness. One centres on the identification of protectionist measures and the ability of the EU to induce policy changes by trading partners. The other is to improve awareness among EU exporters of the existence of the MAP and leveraging the tools that are available to address market access restrictions. The European Parliament can contribute to addressing these challenges by engaging with national parliaments and constituencies on the existence and utility of the MAS and in advocating that market access issues be prioritised in the activities of the European Commission. The European Parliament can also play an increased role in helping to achieve the goals of the MAS and support EU exports by raising market access issues when they engage with third country counterparts.

Autore esterno

Bernard HOEKMAN, Matteo FIORINI, Roberta IGLIOZZI, Naïs RALAISON and Aydin YLDIRIM.

Policy measures to respond to trade adjustment costs

24-11-2017

Trade liberalisation is generally expected to bring net welfare gains to the domestic economy by reallocating resources to more productive firms or to industries with a comparative advantage. However, these gains are not always distributed evenly and can involve transitional costs for certain firms and workers. Trade adjustment measures are designed to compensate for these costs. The literature proposes mainly active labour policies (including training and other measures for re-employment) for dealing ...

Trade liberalisation is generally expected to bring net welfare gains to the domestic economy by reallocating resources to more productive firms or to industries with a comparative advantage. However, these gains are not always distributed evenly and can involve transitional costs for certain firms and workers. Trade adjustment measures are designed to compensate for these costs. The literature proposes mainly active labour policies (including training and other measures for re-employment) for dealing with these adjustments. Other policies, such as passive labour policies (unemployment benefits), credit financing, housing policies, etc., can also play a role. The EU's main instrument is the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which focuses on active labour policies. In the USA, trade adjustment assistance includes assistance for workers as well as firms and farmers. Assessments of these measures have shown some positive results. In both the EU and the USA, the effectiveness of the measures was found to be greater the higher the educational level of workers or, in the case of measures targeting firms, the higher the growth of the industry's market. This would suggest that structural policies (such as education) play a key role. The EGF has tended to target redundancies from big multinational or national champions, and its co-financing rules are less favourable than other funds, leading to uneven use of the fund by Member States and different views with respect to the reforms needed. The Commission is planning to propose improvements to the EGF in the near future. This briefing may be read together with the 2016 European Implementation Assessment on the EGF for the EMPL Committee, and the recent study on Interactions between trade, investment and trends in EU industry: EU regions and international trade.

Reflection paper on harnessing globalisation

08-09-2017

Globalisation is nothing new; it is centuries old and has always contributed significantly to boosting growth and creating employment. It goes beyond the mere circulation of commercial goods, and more recently services, as it is a way to exchange ideas, spur discovery and innovation, and increase competitiveness. However, for some, globalisation is synonymous with unfair trade practices, job losses and the offshoring of firms, and there has recently been a backlash, culminating in the failure of ...

Globalisation is nothing new; it is centuries old and has always contributed significantly to boosting growth and creating employment. It goes beyond the mere circulation of commercial goods, and more recently services, as it is a way to exchange ideas, spur discovery and innovation, and increase competitiveness. However, for some, globalisation is synonymous with unfair trade practices, job losses and the offshoring of firms, and there has recently been a backlash, culminating in the failure of multilateral trade agreements. Calls for protectionism are all the while growing louder. As part of its wider exercise to modernise the EU, which is now centred on the white paper on the future of Europe, the Commission published a reflection paper on harnessing globalisation in May 2017. The paper identifies both an acceleration and a transformation of globalisation, making it unescapable, and the Commission therefore strongly supports keeping markets open. Nevertheless, it also advocates shaping globalisation in order to spread core European values, such as human rights. The EU's external response should be based on international cooperation, economic diplomacy and ensuring a level playing field. The policy areas covered would range from trade to environment, and from sustainable development to investment. In parallel, the EU's internal response would aim to increase resilience through improved sharing of the benefits of globalisation, and promoting European industry's long-term competitiveness. Reinforcement of the internal market and using the European Semester for improved coordination of economic policies is also advocated in connection with harnessing globalisation, as is targeted support for regions. This briefing is one of a series on the European Commission's reflection papers following up the March 2017 White Paper on the Future of Europe.

Global Trendometer: Essays on medium- and long-term global trends - Summer 2017

06-09-2017

With the publication of the "Global Trendometer" the EPRS Global Trends Unit seeks to contribute to the process of identifying and addressing medium- and long-term trends, and their possible implications for policy-making in the European Union. In this latest edition, three essays and seven two-page vignettes on different geopolitical, economic, technological and social issues paint a broad-ranging picture of some developments that may shape Europe’s future.

With the publication of the "Global Trendometer" the EPRS Global Trends Unit seeks to contribute to the process of identifying and addressing medium- and long-term trends, and their possible implications for policy-making in the European Union. In this latest edition, three essays and seven two-page vignettes on different geopolitical, economic, technological and social issues paint a broad-ranging picture of some developments that may shape Europe’s future.

The G20 Summit in Hamburg: Key issues

05-07-2017

On 7-8 July 2017, the 12th Summit of Heads of State or Government of the Group of Twenty (G20) will take place in Hamburg, Germany. Besides traditional G20 issues, with an emphasis on financial regulation, the focus is on climate and trade protectionism in light of policies recently adopted by the USA.

On 7-8 July 2017, the 12th Summit of Heads of State or Government of the Group of Twenty (G20) will take place in Hamburg, Germany. Besides traditional G20 issues, with an emphasis on financial regulation, the focus is on climate and trade protectionism in light of policies recently adopted by the USA.

Prossimi eventi

03-03-2020
Demographic Outlook for the EU in 2020: Understanding population trends in the EU
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05-03-2020
Has the EU become a regulatory superpower? How it's rules are shaping global markets
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