EU Statements by Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen at the General Council, 8 May 2018
Geneva, 08/05/2018 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 180508_11
2. Implementation of the Bali, Nairobi and Buenos Aires outcomes – statement by the chairman
Two and a half years have passed since WTO members agreed to abolish export subsidies in the agricultural sector. However, only 7 of the 17 members that had commitments on export subsidies prior to Nairobi have submitted amended Schedules (to implement Nairobi).
As far as the EU is concerned, our Nairobi scheduling is part of the draft EU-28 schedule forwarded to members in October 2017. We encourage members who are lagging behind to proceed with their schedule modification swiftly.
4. Selection of New Appellate Body Members – Statement by China
The EU much regrets the inability of the DSB for more than a year now to launch the selection process for new Appellate Body members. We wish to recall the proposal to that effect made by the European Union and 36 other Members, most recently at the DSB meeting on 27 April 2018 (WT/DSB/W/609/Rev.3). We thank all Members that co-sponsored and endorsed the proposal.
The WTO Members have a shared responsibility to resolve this issue as soon as possible and live up to article 17.2 of Dispute Settlement Understanding, which states that vacancies shall be filled as they arise.
We have noted the concerns raised in past several DSB meetings by the delegation of the United States on the issue of Rule 15 of the Working Procedures for Appellate Review.
We see no link between the issue of Rule 15 and the issue of appointments. The discussion on Rule 15 could very well take place without delaying the decision on appointments any further. A fortiori, we see no rationale in blocking the launch of the mere selection process.
This being said, we reiterate our readiness to engage in such discussions, if that helps to unblock the appointments. We believe that - if the concerns on Rule 15 are guided by a legitimate desire to improve the proper administration of transition – an appropriate solution can surely be reached.
5. United States of America – Section 232 Investigations and Measures on Steel and Aluminium Products – Statement By China
The European Union reiterates its concerns with respect to the US measures on steel and aluminium. As already said in previous meetings, we do not believe that they can be justified on the grounds of national security; and seeking to do so can trigger major systemic risks undermining the multilateral trading system. The WTO national security exception does not allow import restrictions for supporting domestic industry.
The European Union and its Member States are very concerned by the direct and indirect impact that the measures could have - on the US market, the EU market, and on third country markets.
The EU takes note that the US government decided to prolong the temporary exemption for the EU, Canada and Mexico for a period of one month (i.e. until 1 June). According to the press release issued on that occasion, this will be a final extension of the exemption. This decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions.
Our final positions will depend on the outcome of ongoing discussions till the end of the month. Nonetheless the EU is determined fully to protect its commercial interests in a WTO-compatible manner. We take the further steps necessary to preserve our rebalancing rights in the WTO. At the same time we continue our safeguard investigation on steel diverted to the EU as a result of the US measures, and we have also put in place a prior surveillance regime on imports of aluminium.
The US measures also distract from the important challenge of addressing the root cause of problems in the steel and aluminium sectors today. This is the reality of global overcapacity caused by non-market based production. Root cause is the global overcapacity owing to subsidies.
Overcapacity does not originate in the EU. On the contrary, the EU has over the past months engaged at all possible levels with the US and other partners to find solutions to this problem. Sector-wide protection in the United States is an inappropriate remedy for the real problems of global overcapacity in these two sectors.
Tackling these problems requires joint efforts in all relevant fora, working with the key countries involved including those who are the source of overcapacity.
The EU has already provided the US its full cooperation in multiple fora, including via the Global Forum.
6. United States of America – Investigations and Measures Under Section 301 of The Trade Act of 1974 – Statement By China
The EU does not support the threat or application of tariffs in breach of WTO commitments.
WTO Members should not take the WTO law into their own hands.
However, that being said, we believe that the entire WTO Membership needs to reflect on the deeper root causes of the current tensions in the trading system. They have to do with forced technology transfer, subsidies, and the role of state-owned enterprises that are brought up, in part, by the Section 301 measures.
If we want to defend and sustain the multilateral trading system, all WTO Members should recognise the need for new rules to fill the gaps in the current rulebook.