TOP, in partnership with the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, hosted a briefing on 6th November from Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, on preparations for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial which will be held in Bali from 3 to 6 December. The briefing was chaired by the BGIPU Chairman, Robert Walter MP and participants from both Houses had the opportunity to discuss key challenges and expected outcomes with Lord Green who will also be one of the Vice-Chairs (along with counterparts from Peru and Rwanda) of the Bali Ministerial.
Lord Green said we have an important opportunity in Bali to demonstrate that the Doha development round is not dead and to prove the WTO has a significant strategic role to play in the world’s economic development. He said the key objective for the new WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo, was to try to pull together a consensus behind a cohesive package of measures to be signed off by WTO members in Bali.
Lord Green said any outcome would not be the end of a process, but a continuation of a much broader agenda. A post-Bali roadmap will be needed, that includes other aspects of the original Doha Round and updates the agenda to align with world trading priorities 12 years on from when the Round first started. It is important to recognise that a trade facilitation deal, if achieved, would be worth around half of all the benefits of Doha. It is also very clear that every single country gains from it, albeit some more than others.
As is usual in such complex international negotiations, Lord Green noted there was a range of other issues that must be addressed in order to reach an agreement. Least and less developed countries were looking for assurances of adequate technical assistance to help meet their multilateral trade commitments. There have been some good proposals coming from the ACP and they need to be taken seriously because they are realistic and would make a great deal of difference to sensible implementation. There are also proposals on food security and agricultural export subsidies which will need to be discussed.
Lord Green said the next few weeks will be crucial and an immense amount of work is underway to get as much agreed as possible in advance of Bali. At the meeting itself, members will need to achieve high-level political agreement to get the total package over the line, and all the interlocking elements would need to fall into place to ensure this. Significant work remains to be done to secure a deal that would greatly improve conditions for world trade and provide better prospects for global economic development.