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Document selected : A8-0238/2015

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PV 09/09/2015 - 8.8
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Wednesday, 9 September 2015 - Strasbourg
Protocol amending the Marrakesh agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (resolution)

European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 9 September 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol Amending the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (06040/2015 – C8-0077/2015 – 2015/0029(NLE)2015/2067(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (06040/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207(4) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0077/2015),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 November 2013 on the state of play of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and preparations for the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference(1),

–  having regard to the ACP-EU JPA resolution on regional integration and modernisation of customs for sustainable development in ACP countries, in cooperation with the EU(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015’(3),

–  having regard to the results of the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Indonesia in December 2013 and the agreement reached there on trade facilitation(4),

–  having regard to the statement by the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council of 27 November 2014(5),

–  having regard to the OECD report of February 2014 entitled ‘The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement – Potential Impact on Trade Costs’,

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 9 September 2015(6) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0238/2015),

A.  whereas facilitating trade is primarily a matter for the national authorities, but there is no doubt that in many areas multilateral cooperation can increase gains and reduce costs;

B.  whereas two thirds of the WTO membership need to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA/agreement) before it can enter into force; whereas, in this regard, it calls for all WTO members to ensure that the agreement can enter into force as soon as possible and in particular before the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi in December 2015;

C.  whereas some of the large emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India will not ask for technical assistance; whereas this is to be welcomed as it shows that the assistance available will go to those who are most in need of it;

D.  whereas the EU is working actively to ensure coherence between its various policies (in the areas of trade, cooperation, humanitarian aid, etc.); whereas these policies should be cross-sectoral and be assessed on the basis of impact studies;

E.  whereas the EU is committed to promoting free, fair and open trade which is balanced and of mutual benefit for all; whereas the WTO is the natural framework for the continuation and reaffirmation of these principles;

F.  whereas the EU and its Member States are the largest aid donors in the world; whereas financial assistance for the implementation of the TFA is a measure under the initiative ‘Aid for Trade’ and should have no impact on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) share for Official Development Aid (ODA);

1.  Welcomes the results of the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2013, where negotiations were concluded by the 160 WTO members on the TFA; considers the TFA an important milestone, as it is the first multilateral agreement since the establishment of the WTO in 1995 and will create a blueprint for customs modernisation amongst the 161 WTO members;

2.  Emphasises that the EU remains in favour of the Bali Package decisions being fully and faithfully implemented by all WTO Members which would enable attention to be turned towards the successful conclusion of the negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA);

3.  Acknowledges the benefits that the implementation of this agreement will bring for developing countries given the contribution it will make to a more business-friendly environment, in particular for SMEs; emphasises, in particular, that the agreement ought to reduce uncertainty regarding market entry conditions and the costs of trade by between 12,5 % and 17,5 % (according to estimates – such as those by the OECD) if fully implemented, thus allowing consumers to access a larger and cheaper range of products and businesses to access new markets and improve their competitiveness by increasing efficiency and reducing unnecessary red tape and associated costs;

4.  Stresses that implementation of the agreement, in particular by developing countries, will result in the standardisation and simplification of trade-related procedures; points out that the agreement can provide new opportunities to expand the use of innovative technologies and electronic systems, including electronic payment systems, national trade portals and one-stop shops;

5.  Urges all members of the WTO to try to find a solution without delay for implementing the Bali Package in all its aspects, including the reduction of trade-distorting subsidies, so that the DDA can be concluded for the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference;

6.  Stresses the importance of this agreement from a development perspective, taking into account that special and differential treatment applies whereby developing and least developed countries can decide when the different provisions will be implemented and for which ones technical assistance will be required;

7.  Emphasises that the degree and the timing of implementation of the agreement will determine the benefits that will be derived therefrom; believes that full and faithful implementation that reflects the priorities and concerns of developing countries within the remit of the DDA will be of greatest benefit to all signatories;

8.  Draws attention to the fact that the agreement contains binding provisions and non-binding guidelines; urges all WTO members to do their utmost to implement both the binding provisions and the guidelines, with a view to bringing trade costs down as far as is possible;

9.  Emphasises that a number of requirements under the agreement, notably on transparency and the automated entry and payment of duties, can be a powerful means of addressing border corruption; calls for better cooperation between custom authorities and stresses that greater transparency will lead to a higher level of security and will be a strong incentive for the intensification of trade, in addition to ensuring more effective customs controls;

10.  Fully supports the EU initiative of targeting EUR 400 million in funding over five years for supporting trade facilitation reforms and projects such as improving the customs systems of developing and least developed countries; recalls that this funding, which will mostly be provided through the Regional Indicative Programmes allocations for regional economic integration, is part of the much wider EU ‘Aid for Trade’ initiative (EUR 3,5 billion EU grants in 2013) and requests regular information be provided to the European Parliament and the Member States in this regard;

11.  Highlights, however, that this funding should be very well coordinated with the funding coming from other international donors such as UNCTAD, the WTO and the World Bank; stresses that duplication should be avoided as should excessive bureaucracy for requesting countries, which could act as a deterrent for those seeking assistance;

12.  Calls also for close cooperation with specialist organisations such as the World Customs Organization (WCO) which can provide valuable practical and technical expertise on a case-by-case basis facilitating development and capacity building within this scope; stresses that the least developed countries in particular can take full advantage of the trading opportunities created by the TFA;

13.  Underlines the key role that can be played by EU delegations around the world which can work with developing and least developed countries on the ground and asks for the largest possible involvement of these delegations in the disbursement of technical assistance;

14.  Calls on the Commission to do its utmost to support developing and least developed countries in the implementation of their commitments, taking into account the need for flexibility for the implementation of obligations under the agreement; stresses that funding for capacity building should be recipient-driven and based on proper needs assessments;

15.  Recommends that international organisations and the partners of developing and least developed countries collaborate closely in the implementation of category C provisions in order to implement them within the shortest possible time;

16.  Recognises the wide gap that still remains between developed and developing countries’ border procedures, and that poor infrastructure, inefficient customs management, cases of corruption and excessive red tape slow down trade; acknowledges that the TFA and the trade liberalisation process share the same objective of reducing trading costs in order to stimulate economic activity;

17.  Recalls that for many developing countries trade facilitation will be the main source of gains in the DDA; welcomes the extensive provisions on special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries; suggests that the novel approach of making commitments and their scheduling commensurate with countries’ capacities should serve as a benchmark for future agreements;

18.  Recognises that private sector expertise can play a central role in promoting trade facilitation measures and in providing assistance and support for the implementation of the agreement in developing countries; takes note of a planned USAID initiative for a public-private alliance to this end; calls on the Commission to encourage private sector involvement and to explore possibilities for partnerships with European industries in support of implementing the agreement;

19.  Acknowledges that the implementation of trade facilitation reforms has broader development benefits; notes in this context the key role that customs can play in facilitating the expeditious movement of consignments of disaster relief items; stresses that emergency humanitarian assistance should benefit from simplified customs clearance procedures in order to speed up aid deliveries, and, should moreover be exempt from duties and taxes;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the World Trade Organization.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0511.
(2) OJ C 345, 2.10.2014, p. 28.
(3) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 5 February 2015 (COM(2015)0044).
(4) The Bali Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(13)/DEC); Bali Ministerial Decision on Trade Facilitation Agreement (WT/MIN(13)/36 or WT/L/911 of 11 December 2013).
(5) Protocol amending the Marrakesh Agreement establishing The World Trade Organization WT/L/940 of 28 November 2014.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0303.

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