European Union External Action

Informal Heads of Delegation meeting on 25 July 2016

Geneva, 29/07/2016 - 17:10, UNIQUE ID: 160729_3

Statement by Ambassador Marc Vanheukelen

Thank you Director-General and thank you Chair, for the extensive report you have given us. Your, recent ministerial discussions in Paris and in Shanghai as well as discussions here in Geneva have shown that there is a considerable interest among Members to engage in discussions on a variety of areas. This renewed engagement is very much welcome, but it is not enough. We need to shift into a higher gear so that we can get a clearer view of what we can aim for at the next Ministerial Conference.

Members will have to have a frank discussion already this autumn to arrive at a common understanding of the subjects where there is sufficient traction to advance toward MC11. We welcome the submissions that have been made in recent weeks to populate the discussion. More submissions are however needed. The EU will stay active in the coming weeks and urges others to do the same so that ideas are circulating in writing and further talks can be held soon after the summer.

Focussing on the individual areas, the EU welcomes the high level of activity shown by Members in terms of presenting their expectations regarding domestic support and possible option to advance. The EU strongly believes that this is an area where efforts need to be redoubled in order to identify realistic solutions that put us on course toward disciplining trade distorting support across all WTO Members. 

Equally, we welcome the interest shown regarding e-commerce and digital trade which was very much in evidence again this morning.

The EU together with other Members has put forward a submission setting out the issues, which we hope can serve as a basis for further exploratory talks and the elaboration of concrete textual proposals.

A considerable amount of interest has also been shown on fisheries subsidies, which is one of the areas where we could not advance in Nairobi. We are ready to engage with other WTO Members to look for multilateral disciplines which allow us to advance together.

And, we welcome the interest expressed in domestic regulation in services, where there is an urgent need to
advance to text-based negotiations and where we can build from a solid basis of existing material.

With regard to other prospective areas, we have taken good note of the recent submission by the LDC group regarding their post-Nairobi priorities, where considerable attention was devoted to NTBs. The EU firmly believes that progress in this area is much overdue and that an incremental step forward can be achieved as part of our preparations of MC11. The EU will therefore engage with other delegations to explore this area further.

Finally, the EU would like to recall the outcome of the recent G20 Trade Ministers' Meeting in Shanghai, where overcapacity was recognized as a global problem requiring collective responses and where there was recognition that market distorting subsidies require attention. The EU therefore looks forward to working with all WTO Members to advance discussions on subsidies in multiple fora including in the Rules Negotiating Group, in order to give life to these commitments.

Director-General, while MC11 is still more than a year away, we should not be under any illusion that time is on our side. It is not and we must avoid the inefficient and disorderly process that characterised the preparation for Nairobi.

The EU has shown its readiness to advance. We have made submissions and intend to come with new ones after the summer. We hope all Members share this spirt of active and positive engagement.