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World Trade Organization TRIPS waiver to tackle coronavirus

16-09-2021

The coronavirus pandemic has rekindled the global debate on whether the multilateral trade regime for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection limits access to essential medical products. Despite embedded flexibilities in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), India and South Africa, co-sponsored by a large number of developing countries, submitted an initial proposal for a temporary waiver in response to Covid-19 in October 2020, ...

The coronavirus pandemic has rekindled the global debate on whether the multilateral trade regime for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection limits access to essential medical products. Despite embedded flexibilities in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), India and South Africa, co-sponsored by a large number of developing countries, submitted an initial proposal for a temporary waiver in response to Covid-19 in October 2020, followed by a revised proposal in May 2021, which continues to divide opinion. The US administration voiced its support for a vaccines waiver. EU leaders indicated an openness to discussion, while putting forward an alternative plan with a focus on limiting export restrictions, compulsory licensing and using the existing TRIPS flexibilities.

Trade policy for the Biodiversity Strategy 2030

03-06-2021

International trade influences biodiversity through scale, composition and technique effects. Land and sea use change alter natural habitats, while emissions from production and transportation contribute to climate change. Among exports, animal-based agri-food products are particularly land-intensive. Trade policy can play a role in tackling these problems through stronger enforcement of biodiversity-related provisions in trade agreements. The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 commits to better assessing ...

International trade influences biodiversity through scale, composition and technique effects. Land and sea use change alter natural habitats, while emissions from production and transportation contribute to climate change. Among exports, animal-based agri-food products are particularly land-intensive. Trade policy can play a role in tackling these problems through stronger enforcement of biodiversity-related provisions in trade agreements. The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 commits to better assessing trade agreements’ potential impact on biodiversity and to better enforce biodiversity-related provisions. The Trade Committee of the European Parliament has adopted an opinion on the trade aspects of the new strategy.

International trade dispute settlement: WTO Appellate Body crisis and the multiparty interim appeal arrangement

14-04-2021

When disputes arise in international trade, they can be settled with binding rulings under international trade or investment agreements. For World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, members can launch such disputes through the two-step WTO dispute settlement mechanism. The European Union (EU) also includes similar dispute settlement provisions in its trade agreements. The United States' blockage of appointments to the WTO Appellate Body, the highest instance of the WTO dispute settlement, plunged ...

When disputes arise in international trade, they can be settled with binding rulings under international trade or investment agreements. For World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, members can launch such disputes through the two-step WTO dispute settlement mechanism. The European Union (EU) also includes similar dispute settlement provisions in its trade agreements. The United States' blockage of appointments to the WTO Appellate Body, the highest instance of the WTO dispute settlement, plunged the multilateral rules-based trading system into crisis. The US grievances include questions of delay, judicial over-reach, precedence, and transition rules. As the Appellate Body is unable to hear new appeals, no disputes can now be resolved at the highest instance, causing widespread concern in the context of escalating global trade protectionism. To find a temporary solution to the impasse, the EU and a number of trade partners set up a multiparty interim appeal arbitration arrangement (MPIA). The parties continue to seek resolution of the Appellate Body crisis, and agree to use the MPIA as a second instance as long as the situation continues. The MPIA is also open for more WTO members to join. The recently amended EU Enforcement Regulation also enables swift suspension of obligations under trade agreements while the dispute settlement mechanism is blocked. While the USA has criticised the MPIA, the US approach to multilateral cooperation may change under President Joe Biden. The European Commission Trade Policy Review of February 2021 restates the EU's commitment to WTO reform.

EU climate action policy: Responding to the global emergency

18-03-2021

The European Green Deal aims to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050, a target supported by all EU institutions. With this objective, the EU takes a leading role in addressing the global climate emergency. Achieving the climate-neutrality goal requires massive investment and an unprecedented transformation of all sectors of the economy. This study explains the physical basis of climate change and highlights its expected impacts on the EU. To give an overview of EU and international climate ...

The European Green Deal aims to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050, a target supported by all EU institutions. With this objective, the EU takes a leading role in addressing the global climate emergency. Achieving the climate-neutrality goal requires massive investment and an unprecedented transformation of all sectors of the economy. This study explains the physical basis of climate change and highlights its expected impacts on the EU. To give an overview of EU and international climate policies, it outlines international climate agreements, EU climate action and the climate policies of major economies. It assesses the coherence of EU climate policy with other policy areas, and presents the financing of EU climate action through the EU budget and other instruments. To assess the implications of the climate neutrality objective, the study analysis the challenges and opportunities for the EU economy and its impacts on issues such as international relations, migration, trade, consumers and health . The final chapter addresses the issues facing European decision-makers and the outlook for European and global climate action in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

WTO rules: Compatibility with human and labour rights

04-03-2021

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured ...

Supply chains are increasingly international, but many of EU's trade partners fail to meet both the labour standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international human rights norms. EU trade policy is designed to ensure that economic development complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, while upholding human rights and high labour standards. WTO rules require members to comply with a set of basic free trading principles, in particular national treatment and most-favoured nation status. When a member wishes to take a trade-affecting measure that departs from WTO rules, they can justify the action on the basis of general exceptions. Whereas there is no specific provision in the WTO rules on human rights, according to case law and precedents, the general exception can sometimes allow trade-restricting measures based on human rights concerns. Yet, the open nature of WTO-rules means that members must devise trade-restrictive measures carefully, and that the dispute settlement process can involve complex legal interpretation if litigation arises. The uncertainty surrounding the compatibility between WTO rules and human and labour rights is attracting growing attention, generating calls for WTO reform. Another WTO framework that has been the subject of a long-standing debate on whether its flexibility provisions are sufficient to protect human rights and in particular the right to health is the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the debate has refocused on the need to waive some TRIPS provisions. This briefing provides an overview of complex issues relating to human rights and WTO rules. It does not argue for a specific interpretation or position, and does not attempt to bring final clarification on aspects still disputed among legal experts.

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement: An analytical overview

02-02-2021

This EPRS publication seeks to provide an analytical overview of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), which was agreed between the two parties on 24 December and signed by them on 30 December 2020, and has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021. The European Parliament is currently considering the Agreement with a view to voting on giving its consent to conclusion by the Council on behalf of the Union. The paper analyses many ...

This EPRS publication seeks to provide an analytical overview of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), which was agreed between the two parties on 24 December and signed by them on 30 December 2020, and has been provisionally applied since 1 January 2021. The European Parliament is currently considering the Agreement with a view to voting on giving its consent to conclusion by the Council on behalf of the Union. The paper analyses many of the areas covered in the agreement, including the institutional framework and arrangements for dispute settlement, trade in goods, services and investment, digital trade, energy, the level playing field, transport, social security coordination and visas for short-term visits, fisheries, law enforcement and judicial coordination in criminal matters, and participation in Union programmes. It looks at the main provisions of the Agreement in each area, setting them in context, and also gives an overview of the two parties' published negotiating positions in the respective areas.

Slowing down or changing track? Understanding the dynamics of 'Slowbalisation'

03-12-2020

Slowbalisation – understood as the slowdown in global integration – is said to have started in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The coronavirus pandemic brought about a further dramatic fall in cross-border movement of goods, services, capital and people, to the extent that commentators have proclaimed the beginning of deglobalisation. This paper examines whether the phenomenon described as slowbalisation is myth or reality, by looking at five different pathways of globalisation ...

Slowbalisation – understood as the slowdown in global integration – is said to have started in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The coronavirus pandemic brought about a further dramatic fall in cross-border movement of goods, services, capital and people, to the extent that commentators have proclaimed the beginning of deglobalisation. This paper examines whether the phenomenon described as slowbalisation is myth or reality, by looking at five different pathways of globalisation: international trade, financial openness, increasing inequality, cross-border social movement, and digital exchanges. The key conclusion is that slowbalisation has not been a uniform trend. While international economic globalisation has indeed slowed, the 'digital leap' and continued inequality suggest that globalisation is merely changing form, not disappearing.

US foreign policy after the 2020 Presidential election: Issues for the European Union

03-12-2020

The election of the 46th President of the United States took place on 3 November 2020 amidst the unprecedented scenario of the coronavirus pandemic. Following several days of vote-counting, the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, secured the electoral votes needed to become the next President of the United States. His inauguration will take place on 20 January 2021. Domestic concerns, most notably the management of the coronavirus crisis and the economy, as well as racial issues, were the most important ...

The election of the 46th President of the United States took place on 3 November 2020 amidst the unprecedented scenario of the coronavirus pandemic. Following several days of vote-counting, the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, secured the electoral votes needed to become the next President of the United States. His inauguration will take place on 20 January 2021. Domestic concerns, most notably the management of the coronavirus crisis and the economy, as well as racial issues, were the most important subjects in determining voter preference. As usual, foreign policy did not rank highly amidst voters' concerns. However, for the European Union, the impact of the election of Joe Biden on US foreign policy will leave a substantial mark on the future course of transatlantic relations and of global cooperation. While foreign policy under the forthcoming Biden Administration is expected to depart from some of the key tenets of President Trump's 'America First' foreign policy, experts also point to a high possibility of continuity in areas such as trade and relations with China. However, on climate change, multilateral cooperation and support for NATO, expectations are high regarding a potential return to deep levels of transatlantic consensus and cooperation. Biden's foreign policy is likely to focus on multilateral cooperation, for example by re-joining the Paris Agreement on climate change and resuming US support for the World Health Organization. The former Vice-President has stated he will likely re-join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or Iran Nuclear Deal) in time, and pursue an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia.

EU-US dispute over civil aircraft subsidies

17-11-2020

Since the 1980s onset of intensified sales competition between American and European civil aircraft manufacturers, aircraft trade has been a point of contention in transatlantic trade. Between 1992 and 2004, the Bilateral Agreement on Trade in Large Civil Aircraft regulated the permitted levels of support to aircraft manufacturers. In 2003, Europe's Airbus sold more large civil aircraft than United States-owned Boeing for the first time. The following year, the USA renounced the agreement and launched ...

Since the 1980s onset of intensified sales competition between American and European civil aircraft manufacturers, aircraft trade has been a point of contention in transatlantic trade. Between 1992 and 2004, the Bilateral Agreement on Trade in Large Civil Aircraft regulated the permitted levels of support to aircraft manufacturers. In 2003, Europe's Airbus sold more large civil aircraft than United States-owned Boeing for the first time. The following year, the USA renounced the agreement and launched a World Trade Organization (WTO) case over State aid given to Airbus. The European Union filed a parallel case against US subsidies to Boeing. Following a long-standing dispute, the WTO authorised US imposition of countermeasures worth nearly US$7.5 billion in 2019. In October 2020, in a mirror case brought by the EU against the US subsidies to Boeing, the EU was authorised to impose retaliatory tariffs. On 9 November, the EU imposed these tariffs, on US$4billion worth of US aircraft, food and drink production. In addition to the tariffs, the aviation industry has been hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis. Joe Biden's success in the recent Presidential election strengthen hopes for a negotiated solution to the dispute.

WTO e-commerce negotiations

05-10-2020

While e-commerce represents an increasing portion of the economy, international regulation of e-commerce is lagging behind. In 2017, the WTO Ministerial Conference issued a Joint Statement Initiative signalling the intention to launch plurilateral e-commerce talks. In January 2019, in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, 76 of 164 WTO members, among them the EU, Australia, China, Japan, and the USA launched e commerce negotiations. Members seek a high-standard outcome building on WTO ...

While e-commerce represents an increasing portion of the economy, international regulation of e-commerce is lagging behind. In 2017, the WTO Ministerial Conference issued a Joint Statement Initiative signalling the intention to launch plurilateral e-commerce talks. In January 2019, in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, 76 of 164 WTO members, among them the EU, Australia, China, Japan, and the USA launched e commerce negotiations. Members seek a high-standard outcome building on WTO agreements, but the legal form of the deal is not yet clear. Participants wish to modernise trade rules to fit the digital age and show that the WTO's negotiating function can deliver. Key issues in the negotiations include e-contracts and e-signatures, data flows, data localisation requirements, disclosure of source code, and customs duties on electronic transmissions. While some divergences persist, in particular on data flows and privacy, the talks are progressing with a view to deliver a consolidated draft text by the end of 2020.

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