June 03, 2024 | UK-Facing News/British Chambers of Commerce

World Trade Organization General Council: UK Statements

Item 5: Moving Agriculture Negotiations Forward. Communication from Brazil (WT/GC/W/931)

The UK appreciates Brazil’s initiative to try and move the agriculture negotiations forward, alongside efforts by the Committee on Agriculture (CoA) Special Session (SS) Chair.

We have also heard concerns raised by some groups of Members that negotiations should be transparent and inclusive; we wanted to say at this point that we fully support it. We also heard disappointment at the outcome from Abu Dhabi. We have all also stressed at the last General Council, and this General Council, the need to now ‘get back to work’. As part of getting back to work we want to stress the importance of taking a holistic approach that recognises the interests of all WTO Members. We also all need to commit to deliver progress by MC14.

We particularly welcome the idea of bringing greater structure to the negotiations in the CoA Special Session. This will support Members to look ahead, prepare, and properly engage capitals. We have heard a lot today that this discussion needs to happen in CoA Special Session but let us be honest: just leaving things to committees, despite our best efforts, does not always get stuff done. CoA-SS has an important role to play and should be where the majority of discussion happens. But we all know this issue needs input from Ambassadors and eventually, Ministers’ input. So, the role of the GC is to help set direction for Committees. In our mind this is not about creating a parallel process but about the GC giving directions, structure and guidance. Ultimately, we really need to move away from discussing process to have deeper, more focused conversations on substance. We are ready to see what is possible at the July General Council, but we should not take discussions on process beyond the summer. Members have said they want to get back to work, and we do not need to start from scratch. We want to get back to work on the substance of proposals. We need to focus on what Members actually want to see by way of agriculture reform, this will allow us to identify possible points of convergence and trade-offs. We welcome news from the Chair and DG this morning on a potential workshop and next CoA-Special Session to retry to keep up the momentum. As others have said, we support all efforts that can help move us forwards.

Item 5: Policy Space for Industrial Development – Advancing WTO Committee Work to Support Structural Transformation and Industrial Development in Developing Countries. Request from the Africa Group

Thank you Chair. We thank the Africa Group for circulating the communication on policy space and advancing WTO committee work. It was helpful to see the structures that are envisaged for this debate. The UK agrees that we need to reinforce the WTO’s role as the forum for deliberation on key global trade challenges and we believe that a conversation on industrial policy and development related issues is needed.

We recognise the challenges that some countries face in fully integrating and taking advantage fully of the multilateral trading system. The UK actively wants to engage in this conversation. We participated in the substantive conversations and discussions on subsidies during Rules Week. We are also closely engaged in conversations on Technology Transfer as seen in our paper on Voluntary Licensing and Technology Transfer. We welcomed the outcome of this in the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration which we worked hard with Egypt and others to get to. But we do also need to recognise that policy space proposals go right to the heart of the multilateral trading system.

The issues highlighted in these proposals are complex and cross-cutting. Discussions need to take place by the right technical experts with sufficient time. We welcome therefore the suggestion of having technical discussions at the Committee on Trade and Development in conjunction with the technical committees. We also welcome the suggestion of using other forms of engagement, including thematic sessions, in addition to committee discussions. The UK is ready to constructively engage with these conversations and we should all come to this debate with open minds, willing to listen to each other, without prejudging solutions.

Item 11: Incorporation of the Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (IFDA) into Annex 4 of the WTO Agreement. Communication from 124 Members Parties to the IFDA (WT/GC/W/927)

DG, you asked us earlier what the next stage is for development. It is this IFD agreement. We have consistently heard evidence on the value of this agreement, including here today. So I am not going to repeat it. But what is clear, is that over three quarters of the membership made a legitimate request to incorporate this agreement under WTO rules. We need to get this done by the summer. In order to do that we need this to be on the July GC agenda for decision and we look forward to getting it done there.


Source from GOV.UK

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