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The EU and the WTO | Brussels, 9 October 2017

EU calls for ambition in Marrakech ahead of WTO Ministerial Conference

Between 10 and 13 December the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will hold its 11th biannual ministerial conference in Buenos Aires. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is joining other trade ministers for an informal preparatory meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. This meeting helps to set the agenda for the larger formal gathering in Argentina.

In Marrakech the EU has challenged its WTO partners to plan for substantive outcomes at the ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, in several key negotiation areas.

"The time for ambition is now. The multilateral forum remains the best way to deal with international trade issues and the EU continues to strongly support the work of the WTO. If we want to have a positive outcome in Buenos Aires in December, then we need to focus and pick up the pace. The EU has put forward several proposals on critical issues that today's trade policy must address. We hope and expect that other WTO members will engage constructively," said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

The EU has made text proposals in six areas of work.

On farming subsidies, known as domestic support in agriculture, the EU recently published a joint proposal with Brazil which provides a realistic path to reform. This proposal also addresses the issue of public stockholdings.

On Monday, the EU together with several countries from the 'Cairns' group of agricultural exporters (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam) issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to tackling the most trade distorting domestic support in agriculture. This joint declaration is an important step towards a solution that limits market distortions and ensures a global level-playing field for farmers, whilst taking into account the particular needs of developing countries.

The EU has also tabled proposals on fisheries subsidies, domestic regulation in services, e-commerce, on enhancing transparency for the benefit of SMEs as well as on horizontal subsidies.

In addition, the EU is also supportive of further discussion on investment facilitation in the WTO.

After Marrakech, the EU will use the next few weeks to continue intensive work on all these issues for which there is a clear case and basis for negotiations.

On the sidelines of the informal WTO ministerial meeting, Commissioner Malmström is also meeting several representatives of WTO member countries for bilateral meetings. For instance, she will meet her Brazilian and Argentinian counterparts to discuss WTO cooperation as well as the ongoing negotiations for a trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur trading bloc.

Separately, the European Union is once again contributing €100,000 to support the participation of least-developed countries at the conference in Buenos Aires. This will ensure that all voices are represented, regardless of economic status. The EU has donated approximately EUR 20 million to WTO trust funds over the last 15 years, in addition to significant contributions made by individual EU member states.

"All WTO members deserve an opportunity to engage in these discussions. This is essential to achieving a balanced outcome in the interests of all members," said Commissioner Malmström.

The EU-Brazil proposal on trade-distorting agricultural subsidies

Statement from the Cairns group

EU leads the way by eliminating export subsidies ahead of WTO conference in Buenos Aires, news item, 6 October 2017