Fabian Demicoli

WTO negotiations: Europe needs a deal – failure is not an option


 The WTO Round, started in 2001 in Doha, is gaining fresh momentum with the new negotiation texts tabled in Geneva on agriculture and industrial goods. First reactions last week from some interest groups have however criticised the texts. GRTU, however, supports the progress made in the WTO.


 "Europe needs a deal in 2008 – failure is not an option," said Xavier Durieu, Secretary General of the European retail and wholesale organisation, EuroCommerce. "Commissioner Mandelson is doing a good job. He deserves support from all. As consumers feel the impact of higher agricultural and manufacturing prices, multilaterally agreed liberalisation for a wide range of products is needed more urgently than ever."

Now is the time to focus on the whole picture and put consumers first. Too much is at stake for Europe:

The removal of red tape at customs ("trade facilitation" in WTO jargon) will spare European companies some 3% of their transaction costs.

Improved conditions for commercial presence of European supermarkets outside the EU will create jobs and export European culture.

The European agricultural sector is still highly protected – to the detriment of developing countries and European consumers. An ambitious WTO deal will help getting things right.

"Not least, only the stable multilateral framework of the WTO with its dispute settlement mechanism can make sure that all countries respect the rules. A predictable and legally certain regulatory environment is indispensable for companies in Europe and abroad. Protectionism is the best route towards recession in Europe. Global governance ensured by the WTO is too precious to be put at risk. Now more than ever, Europe should be united in supporting it", concluded Mr Durieu.

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