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WTO Conference Highlights

By December 13, 2017 No Comments
From December 10th to the 13th, the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference has been taking place in Buenos Aires. The WTO is expected to discuss and conclude upon crucial trade decisions, which will impact companies and governments worldwide, including those in Brazil.
Until now, the main highlights of the conference have been as follows:
  • Regarding Agriculture, the conference president proposed a solution to public stocks, however, the theme still faces resistance. Brazil, for instance, has shown opposition to the fact that the safeguard is not in the proposal text, only in the footnote.
  • In domestic support, the debate was to keep only one language to maintain the topic on the agenda and commit to the reduction of subsidies. Still, no date was settled.
  • According to the delegation chiefs’ meeting, the statement which may come out should only contain decisions surrounding the work program on agriculture (an idea defended by the U.S) as well as maybe mentioning market access.
  • As to the matter of small and medium enterprises, more than 80 countries are part of the Friends of SMEs network, Brazil included. On the other side, the other countries are still against, for tactical matters.
  • Similarly, 70 countries are supporting the facilitation of investments, while the others are maintaining their tactical stance in opposition, in order to force a negotiation mandate.
  • On the fisheries topic, the decision should be to continue the current mandate and define a work program. Regulation of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing was a matter not pursued.
  • Focusing on domestic regulation, the services matter was discussed, which could be a topic that Brazil intends to join.
  • Regarding e-commerce, a renewal of a moratorium on customs duties applied to electronic commerce has not yet been reached. It has been difficult to link to the moratorium on IP rights and, for India, the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • As for political agreements, it has been decided that they will not take place this week in Buenos Aires. A statement from the negotiators announcing the final stages is expected. The agreement has not yet been scheduled, but it is known it will not take place in Brasília. It is expected to be finalized in the 1st quarter of 2018.
  • Despite this, the negotiators considered the meeting positive for the Mercosur members, who arranged important positions and harmonized decisions. In addition, the EU has recognized the needs to advance discussions regarding moving forward into the agricultural sector.
  • Regarding the precaution issue on sustainable development, Mercosur still opposes, meaning it will remain a non-consensual agreement. 
  • There were no advances on geographical indications. It is expected that the theme gains more traction with the internal consultation within Mercosur.
  • Meanwhile, the safeguard text has been advanced, but the due date is still unknown. Mercosur wants it to be as long as possible, while the EU requests a short time period.
  • There is still no decision regarding the term of self-certification on the certification of origin matters. Mercosur wants 15 years while the EU appeals for just 1 year. The EU intends to give technical cooperation for self-certification.
  • Simultaneously, the EU has taken steps forward on the cooperation topic. They intend to create a fund of 500 million Euros to assist in areas such as infrastructure, research and development.
  • The Mercosur ministers considered the ideas of drawback and remanufactured goods essential to celebrate the agreement.
  • On the political agenda, negotiators believe that neither the political agenda in Brazil nor Paraguay will have a negative impact on the agreement.
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