With protectionism looming, is open and fair trade still possible? How can we break the impasse at the WTO?
This seminar will focus on the EU-Japan Partnership Agreement (EPA) as an example of open and fair trade as advocated by the EU and Japan. It will also detail the strong leadership that the EU and Japan are undertaking in advancing the discussions of WTO reform and in defending multilateralism.
The EPA, which entered into force on 1 February 2019, covers nearly one-third of global GDP and more than half of world trade, and is one of the biggest trade agreements ever concluded. Its significance is three-fold. First, it considerably reduces tariffs and breaks down non-tariff trade barriers, facilitates services and encourages increased activities in a number of service sectors that account for 90% of Europe’s job creation. Second, the EPA supports achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by including specific provisions of the Paris Climate Accord, which is a first. Both the EU and Japan also commit to high standards for workers’ rights and consumer protection. Third, given the economic strength of both, the EPA is regarded as a success in rule-making for global trade.
At the same time, the WTO multilateral trading system has now reached a critical point on two fronts. First, the dispute settlement mechanism may come to an end as soon as December 2019 as, at that point in time, there will be less than the minimum three members required for the Appellate Body to hear an appeal. Second, the WTO’s rule-making capacity – for example, regarding transparency, industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises – has been undermined in recent years as it has not been able to adapt sufficiently to the rapidly changing global economy. This is causing an uneven playing field, undermining the foundation of open and fair trade and rendering the multilateral system less relevant in the process. Various WTO reform proposals have been submitted in order to break the impasse, and the EU and Japan are playing an active role in advancing WTO reform.
Please note that only a limited number of places is available for this meeting. An email will be sent to you by Anne-Marie Boudou prior to the event to confirm your participation for good.