Permanent Mission of the European Union to
the World Trade Organization (WTO)

EU Statement by Ambassador João Aguiar Machado at the Trade Negotiations Committee/HODs meeting, 12 October 2020

Geneva, 12/10/2020 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 201012_18
Local Statements

I would like to congratulate the four deputy Director Generals for their dedication and commitment to steer the organisation during this transition period.

  • Maintaining a positive agenda at the WTO is a challenge under the current circumstances that will require strong political commitment and concerted efforts. We need to urgently pursue our work on reforming the WTO, to ensure that it remains the bedrock of open markets and free trade and contributes to the recovery effort post-crisis.
  • In this context, until the end of the year, the priorities for the European Union will be:
    • First, to bring the DG selection to a successful conclusion and ensure a smooth and rapid entry into office for the new Director General. In order to face the multitude of challenges ahead, the WTO needs strong new leadership as soon as possible.
    • Second, to deliver on ongoing negotiations, starting with the fisheries subsidies negotiations where significant progress is needed to achieve conclusion by the end of 2020 deadline, and crossing significant thresholds in the Joint Statement Initiatives on e-commerce, domestic regulation in services, MSMEs and investment facilitation. Concretely this means:
      • for e-commerce to present a significantly more streamlined, consolidated text by the end of the year,
      •  for services domestic regulation to get a clean draft reference paper by the end of the year,
      • for MSMEs to continue to progress to reach a significant threshold by the end of the year and,
      • for investment facilitation to streamline as much as possible the current negotiating text.
    • Thirdly, to ensure that the WTO lives up to the current challenges born out of the pandemic, in particular on two topics:
  1. Health where the European Union has started work for a WTO trade and health initiative. We are currently discussing with the Ottawa Group Members the content of such an initiative, which we intend to bring to the WTO soon. Will be ready to engage with Members on that basis.
  1. Sustainability where, as recently announced by the Executive Vice President Dombrovskis and new Commissioner for Trade, we are working on advancing the environmental agenda through an initiative that would encompass various angles such as facilitating trade in green goods and services, transparency, development and other aspects. We aim at having an inclusive and transparent process that others can join. This would contribute to ensuring a sustainable and green recovery. We will be ready to explore this further with Members as the initiative progresses.
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