EU statements by Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen at the General Council, 7 May 2019
4. INFORMAL PROCESS ON MATTERS RELATED TO THE FUNCTIONING OF THE APPELLATE BODYA. PROGRESS REPORT BY THE FACILITATORB. GUIDELINES FOR THE WORK OF PANELS AND THE APPELLATE BODY – COMMUNICATION FROM BRAZIL, PARAGUAY AND URUGUAY (WT/GC/W/767/REV.1)C. GUIDELINE DEVELOPMENT DISCUSSION – COMMUNICATION FROM THE SEPARATE CUSTOMS TERRITORY OF TAIWAN, PENGHU, KINMEN AND MATSU (WT/GC/W/763/REV.1)D. INFORMAL PROCESS ON MATTERS RELATED TO THE FUNCTIONING OF THE APPELLATE BODY – COMMUNICATION FROM JAPAN, AUSTRALIA AND CHILE (WT/GC/W/768/REV.1)E. GENERAL COUNCIL DECISION ON THE DISPUTE SETTLEMENT SYSTEM OF WTO – COMMUNICATION FROM THAILAND (WT/GC/W/769)
- Thank Ambassador Walker for his summary. We think he has provided us with a fair description of where things stand today.
- The EU would like to reiterate its support for this solution focussed process. Let us remember that this crisis is urgent and must be addressed as a matter of priority. In previous meetings, this urgency has been quasi-unanimously acknowledged by the Membership.
- This is why the EU, and so many other Members, have made serious efforts to address the concerns raised by the Member blocking the appointments thereby taking hostage the whole dispute settlement system. Even though we did generally not agree with the underlying concerns, we made a serious and sincere effort to address them.
- We now have a number of proposals on the table, and we have had the opportunity to discuss them in detail in room E.
- We hope that this process will move forward and we support Ambassador Walker's intentions that he has just laid out.
- On substance, for the EU the best way forward remains the one contained in the concrete proposals 752 and 753 that we have submitted together with other Members to the General Council. We have taken good note of the comments and positions expressed by other Members on the details of these proposals. Overall, we do think that these discussions revealed that there could in principle be agreement on the substance of most of the proposals.
- In that regard, we note that there are similarities, in terms of substance, between a number of elements contained in our proposals and those contained in the proposals put forward by other Members. As always, there are of course different options to deal with various issues and the EU will continue to approach these discussions in a constructive fashion.
Colleagues, taken together, these various proposals are no small matter. If adopted, they will have a profound impact on the way the Appellate Body operates.
We therefore call on all Members, and in particular the Member who has raised the concerns in the first place, to engage. Staying silent does not help to take the reform process forward. And engagement means moving beyond general questions as to why the Appellate Body has allegedly been straying and to call for a return to what was agreed in 1995. We are here and now and to progress there has to be a political willingness to discuss very specifically the concrete proposals on the table.
5. EUROPEAN UNION - SAFEGUARD MEASURES ON INDICA RICE FROM CAMBODIA - REQUEST FROM CAMBODIA
- The EU d like to stress that this is a bilateral issue and point out that the EU adopted the safeguard in question in the framework of its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP); the measure should thus not be confused with WTO safeguards. There is no discrimination and no incompatibility with WTO rules.
- The EU is fully aware of the economic importance of rice exports for Cambodia. Cambodia has benefitted from the Everything But Arms scheme, the EU's special arrangement for LDCs under GSP, which unilaterally grants duty-free quota-free access to LDCs for all products except arms, including rice.
- Cambodia has now filed an application for annulment of the measures with the EU General Court. Therefore, the EU is not in a position to make any further comments.
6. PROCEDURES TO STRENGTHEN THE NEGOTIATING FUNCTION OF THE WTO – COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE UNITED STATES (WT/GC/W/757/REV.1 AND WT/GC/W/764)
- We firmly believe that development is a central pillar of this organisation.
- At the same time, the current crude distinction between developed and developing countries no longer reflects the reality of the rapid economic growth in some developing countries. We should therefore continue to work on special and differential treatment (SDT) with a view to ensuring that flexibilities are made available to those members who actually need them.
- The EU does not contest the right of WTO Members to self-designate themselves as developed or developing countries.
- However, we should continue to explore options to encourage WTO Members to undertake full commitments in ongoing and future WTO negotiations.
- The EU firmly believes that if this organisation is to prosper, future differentiation must become much more granular, in function of an individual Member's demonstrated needs and capacities. Negotiations predicated on a crude distinction between developed, developing and least developed are bound to fail. Future differentiation should be designed in terms of specific individual country needs at the sectoral or activity level rather than calling for a block exemption of a large category of Members. Furthermore, the EU considers that each developing country's need for SDT should be assessed on a case-by-case and evidence-based basis.
- SDT should focus on providing more time to implement commitments to those who need it, rather than being exempted from obligations, and providing assistance where it is needed. The emphasis of WTO negotiations should be on trade facilitation and liberalization instead of carve-outs. Flexibilities will still be available, but they need to respond to each Member's needs. The notable exception should be the LDCs who deserve particular treatment and who in any case have graduation mechanism.
- We are open to discuss and help other Members with the difficulties they face; and we already provide considerable development assistance to help developing countries, in particular LDCs, achieve their development objectives.
- There is a strong need to reform SDT and we are open to discuss several proposals. In the end we should find a solution that can be supported by all WTO Members.
- In that respect, the EU is supportive to the initiative taken by Norway to facilitate a discussion among WTO members on the development issues.
- We note that Norway's paper is looking for a pragmatic and solution-orientated approach, on development and differential treatment, with focus on current and future negotiations.
7. PURSUING THE DEVELOPMENT DIMENSION IN WTO RULE-MAKING EFFORTS – COMMUNICATION FROM NORWAY (WT/GC/W/770)
- The EU welcomes the communication by Norway and co-sponsors. We believe that its focus is right because it is looking for a pragmatic and solution-orientated approach with regard to future agreements.
- We welcome the emphasis on the contribution of trade to development, which needs to be clearly acknowledged in the debate on development and should serve as an underlying principle in the reflection on the approach to SDT. As I already said earlier this afternoon, the objective of SDT is not to exempt developing members from obligations, but to allow developing members to (progressively) ensure full participation in the trading system.
- Therefore, we agree with Norway that the question should be how SDT could be designed in order to address development challenges members are facing. We also agree that it is the negotiated result that matters, not the categorization of members, except for LDCs where special treatment should be maintained.
- We share Norway’s view that SDT should be designed in terms of specific individual country needs, preferably at sectoral or activity level, and that the needs are somehow based on evidence.
- SDT should focus on providing more time to implement commitments and as well as on providing assistance. Eventually, future agreements should be universally implemented.