European Interest

WTO agreement shows multilateralism is still alive, says Trade Committee Chair

Socialists & Democrats
WTO "agreements lay the foundation for the further development of rules-based, fair and sustainable trade," said Chair Bernd Lange.

Chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) made the following statement today after the announcement of a series of agreements at the 12th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference.

“Multilateralism is not dead; on the contrary – it is very much alive. I welcome this morning’s agreements at the WTO on several crucially important issues the resolution of which the European Parliament has been calling for years. These agreements lay the foundation for the further development of rules-based, fair and sustainable trade.

On fisheries, the WTO succeeded in integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals into the trade regime in a binding way for the first time, ending a 21-year long discussion. Trade-related responses to the pandemic and the food crisis show that the multilateral trading regime can also come together to provide answers to pressing current problems. Negotiators also succeeded in agreeing on the extension of the e-commerce moratorium, which means that no custom duties will be imposed on electronic transmissions. Finally, I welcome the agreement of the 164 members on a mandate for reforming the WTO. Reforms of the dispute settlement mechanism, and the rules and working methods of the organisation must be addressed without delay.

At MC12, compromises were necessary. Such compromises will continue to be important if we want to shape people’s lives for the better in a peaceful manner. Using economic opportunities to improve the living conditions of all should remain the single most important goal of the organisation.

Today’s agreements could not have happened without the committed and courageous negotiation leadership of the Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and her very committed and competent deputies, whose achievement I wish to salute.”

The European Parliament laid out its expectations ahead of the twelfth ministerial council of the WTO in a report at the end of 2021 prior to the pandemic-enforced cancellation of the 12th ministerial meeting. Since then, it has also formulated its stance on a potential waiver agreement on COVID-19 vaccines. Parliament has been calling for the reform of the functioning of the WTO since 2008.

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