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The EU and the WTO | Brussels, 16 July 2013

WTO Trade Policy Review: EU committed to open trade

11th Trade Policy Review of the European Union (16 & 18 July)

The EU Trade Policy Review is taking place in the WTO on 16 and 18 July 2013. The Permanent Representative of the EU to the WTO, Ambassador Angelos Pangratis, stated 'the EU remains one of the most open economies in the world. Open trade creates much needed opportunities for growth and jobs and is a cornerstone of our road to recovery from the economic crisis. Our commitment to the multilateral trading system remains as strong as ever and we are dedicated to making the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali a success.'

In its introductory statement the EU highlighted the following elements of its trade policy:

• Despite the serious economic difficulties it has faced over the last years, the EU has not resorted to protectionist measures. This is a very positive sign and the result of the EU’s determination to remain an open economy and use trade to overcome the economic crisis.
• The EU remains the largest trading partner in the world and the most important trading partner for 80 of the WTO Members. Furthermore, it is the biggest donor of aid and the biggest investor world-wide as well as the most important recipient of foreign direct investment.
• This strong position gives the EU a special responsibility in the WTO, which it has consistently honoured. The EU is particularly committed to ensuring the success of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, with agreements to be reached mainly on trade facilitation but also on agriculture and development-related issues.
• The fact that EU has concluded or is negotiating bilateral agreements with several WTO Members cannot be interpreted as a sign of disengagement from the multilateral trading system. On the contrary, the EU is committed to ensuring that such agreements will prepare the ground for the next level of multilateral liberalisation and rulemaking. The conclusion of ambitious plurilateral or preferential agreements is a clear signal of the parties’ willingness to open markets on goods and services and tackle complex regulatory issues.
• Internally the EU and its Member States have continued to take the necessary measures to put the EU economy back on track, in particular by tackling the necessary regulatory reforms in the financial sector. The completion of the Banking Union is the next important step in this regard.
• The further consolidation and completion of the single market also remains an EU priority in the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy. The EU has been at the forefront of the liberalisation of key services sectors that are still under the State's umbrella in many WTO Members such as telecoms, post or transport services. The enforcement of EU competition laws continues to be a key factor to keep and develop the single market’s smooth functioning.
• The EU’s economic growth rests on its capacity to innovate. This is why IPR protection is essential to the EU. In this regard, the adoption of a unitary patent at EU level represents an important improvement.
• Finally on agriculture, which remains an area of much interest in the WTO, the EU has reached a political agreement on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which will be implemented next year. This reform, like the previous ones, continues to increase the market orientation of EU agriculture.

Background

The WTO Trade policy Review meeting is taking place in Geneva on 16 and 18 July 2013.
The Trade Policy Review Mechanism is the most important transparency exercise of the WTO. It systematically and regularly analyses and assesses the trade policies of the WTO Member and thus shows how well they comply with the rules, disciplines and commitments initially made. It outlines the trade policies and practices of WTO Members and by doing so promotes a smoother functioning of the multilateral trading system.

The four largest Members in terms of trade volume are reviewed every two years. Currently, these Members are the EU (last reviewed in July 2011), the US (last reviewed in December 2012), Japan (last reviewed in February this year) and China (last reviewed in June 2012). The next 16 Members are reviewed every four years. All other countries are being reviewed every six years, but a longer period may be fixed for Least Developed Countries.

The review of the EU's trade policy is based on a report presented by the WTO Secretariat, a report from the EU and written questions from Members, to which the EU replies in writing. The EU has received and replied in writing to more than 1200 written questions in advance of this meeting.

For further information and related documents please visit the webpages of the WTO http://www.wto.org/ and the EU Mission in Geneva http://www.delgva.ec.europa.eu/en/index.htm