Buenos Aires, Viernes, 2 de Diciembre
21 julio, 2014 6:10 Imprimir

Bali puede ser el anuncio de una nueva era en la OMC — Azevêdo

 

 

El Director General, Roberto Azevêdo, pronunció un discurso en Canberra este 17 de julio, en la Crawford School of Public Policy, de la Universidad Nacional de Australia. Comentando el éxito de la Conferencia de Bali, afirmó que “se han abierto nuevos horizontes para la OMC, pero son los Miembros los que deben decidir si se aprovecha esta oportunidad. Es una cuestión de voluntad política”. Manifestó su convencimiento de que “Australia puede hacer mucho, en particular este año durante su presidencia del G20,” para ayudar a concluir la Ronda de Doha. El Director General dijo lo siguiente:

 

(de momento sólo en inglés)

 

Professor Peter Drysdale, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for that generous introduction.

It is really a pleasure for me to be here and to have found the time in my busy schedule. We have had a very good bilateral meeting with  Australian officials today. It is a particular pleasure for me to be able to come to the Australian National University because this institution is well known for its strong support of the multilateral trading system and I want to thank you for that.

Indeed many of the Australian government officials I have met over the years have had a degree from this university on their CV — so you are obviously doing something right!

Over the next few moments, I would like to address the question: “Can the success in Bali transform the WTO?”

Six months on from Bali, we are at a very important juncture as we look to ensure all decisions taken at that meeting are fully implemented as was agreed in Bali — including the Trade Facilitation Agreement on streamlining customs procedures. We also have an urgent task to put in place a work programme on other WTO negotiating issues.

But this urgency doesn’t come from the deadlines set in Bali. It also stems from the need to deliver the growth and development gains that are on offer at this point in time and also to prevent further trade restrictive measures being introduced.

A report we published just a few weeks ago showed that G-20 members have continued to introduce trade restrictions over the last six months — at a slightly slower pace than the previous six months.

112 new measures were introduced, against 116 in the previous period. They are being applied at a slower pace but still these measures are being applied.

While some liberalising measures were also brought forward, it is clear that the coat of trade restrictions has again grown a bit thicker and it keeps getting thicker.

Building on Bali to restore momentum in the WTO would be one powerful way of reversing this trend — creating a backstop, or drawing a line under the current position to prevent future restrictive measures. On subsidies and tariffs, for example, we could ensure that they don’t continue to grow.

I therefore welcome the leadership shown by Prime Minister Abbott and Minister Robb to put trade front and centre during Australia’s Presidency of the G-20 — with a particular focus on trade as a tool for both growth and development. I am looking forward to discussing these issues at the meeting of G-20 trade ministers in Sydney this weekend. I will be sending a strong message on the need for the G-20 to support the efforts we are making in  Geneva to capitalise on Bali — to put renewed life back into the WTO.

THE BALI OUTCOME

Economists estimate that the package that we agreed in Bali last December could be worth up to $1 trillion to the global economy and could create up to 21 million new jobs around the world.

So, in economic terms, there can be no doubt that Bali represented an important moment.

But Bali was also significant in a systemic sense. Up to that point the WTO had failed, during its 18 year history, to deliver negotiated outcomes.

So Bali was a real breakthrough. It was a tremendous boost to the organization.

But will it transform the prospects of the WTO and the multilateral trading system over the longer term — and lead to further negotiated outcomes? That’s the question we have to answer.

Frankly, it is too soon to give a definitive response. But I think what is clear is that Bali created a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve this change — to revitalise trade talks at the multilateral level — and to deliver significant gains in growth and development.

The progress that we make in the months ahead will be critical and it will determine whether we can seize this opportunity.

So let’s take a look at the state of play in the trade debate in the world today but let’s start here in Australia.

And I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the role that Australia played in delivering the Bali package.

Both the government and the private sector helped to create the conditions in which a deal was possible. So I want to thank Australia’s private and public sectors for the support they have given.

AUSTRALIA — A LEADING VOICE IN TRADE DEBATE

Australia is a trading nation.

With a small population in relative terms, and a perfect geographical position, it’s perhaps inevitable that trade has long been a major part of Australia’s economic mix.

Today, Australia’s exports of goods and services account for about  20% of the economy — a significant number.

Around 60% of agricultural output is exported, as are the vast bulk of mineral resources.

Australia is also a major services trader — whether it be financial services, transport, education, health services or a range of other sectors where Australia’s location here in the Asia-Pacific has made it a key trade destination.

And trade makes a big difference in people’s lives. More than 13% of Australian jobs are export related.  And I have seen studies estimating that trade liberalisation has added 2.5-3.5% to the Australian economy over the past two decades. It also benefitted the average Australian working family by up to $3,900 a year.

By cutting red tape at borders, the Trade Facilitation Agreement that we struck in Bali should bring additional benefits to the economy.

To take a simple example, at present, exporters of oranges from New South Wales or Victoria, or mango producers in Queensland, may have to provide 40 documents to 20 or more parties when they try to ship a container into some markets. This bureaucracy can cause lengthy delays, meaning not only that shipments are spoiled but that   the money is lost.

Delays in shipping create unnecessary costs for all exporters, and complex border processes raise the barriers of entry beyond the means particularly of small and medium-sized companies.

This new agreement will streamline and standardise border processes while also giving priority to perishable goods — and this will help businesses across the region. We have no doubt about that whatsoever.

But I don’t have to convince you of the importance of trade and open markets.

Indeed, Australia is a leading voice for trade on the world stage.

As a founding member of the WTO in 1995, and its predecessor the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947, Australia is a long-standing supporter of the multilateral trading system.

You have always played a very key leadership role in the WTO.

Through the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries which Australia chairs, you have long been pushing for agriculture reforms.

But there are other areas where Australia has led as well.

Services is another area where Australia has been an acknowledged leader for many years — perhaps best demonstrated recently in Geneva by your co-chairing of the negotiations on a Trade in Services Agreement — usually known as TiSA.

Australia has also championed the cause of giving voice to the smaller developing countries in your region, particularly the Pacific islands. This is another important part of Australia’s role at the WTO. We have welcomed Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga to the WTO in recent years which Australia has championed. This has added important new voices in Geneva given the challenges faced by many Pacific islands countries because of their remoteness and small size.

Australia has also been prepared to help the system when it is needed.  For instance, you played an important role in 2011 when efforts were being made to find new and more realistic pathways to delivering multilateral success. That was vital to subsequently delivering the Bali outcome.

And of course Australia is very active at the regional level — through the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and through your bilateral deals with Korea and Japan. And I expect that China is in the pipeline now as well.

There has been a great deal of speculation about such initiatives in recent times and I am always asked about what they mean for the multilateral system.

But I think it is important to recognise that the different tracks exist and the regional, plurilateral and multilateral are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they can be symbiotic — they have to exist together and complement each other.

APEC, for example, has been an important testing ground where regional endeavours have inspired much broader efforts. Trade facilitation started in APEC and environmental goods liberalisation was also an idea that started in APEC with 54 products.

These building blocks help to build the edifice of global trade rules and trade liberalisation.

But they cannot substitute the multilateral system.

There are some issues which bilateral or regional initiatives simply cannot begin to tackle — and it makes sense to deal with them at the WTO.

Trade facilitation was negotiated in the WTO because it simply makes no sense to cut red tape or streamline customs for one trade partner — if you do it for one country, you automatically do it for everyone.

Similarly, it doesn’t make sense to liberalise financial or telecoms regulations for just one trade partner — and if you do it for one, you are doing it for everyone.

Nor can farming subsidies be tackled in bilateral deals — or disciplines on trade remedies, such as the application of anti-dumping or countervailing duties.

Many of the world’s fastest growing economies are not part of these bilateral deals. So you also have a geographic limitation in bilateral initiatives.

The simple fact is that many of the big challenges facing world trade today still need to be tackled globally.

Of course, I understand why some have put more focus on regional initiatives during a period when the multilateral system was not delivering.  Indeed I would have done the same.

But the success in Bali has changed all that. It proved again that multilateral outcomes are possible. They will be difficult but they are possible.

So WTO members can continue pursuing these other positive initiatives, but we must also do everything we can to ensure that the process in Geneva is moving forward — and that we seize the opportunity that Bali has created.

POST-BALI

In the post-Bali world there are essentially two priorities which confront us.

The first priority is to implement what was agreed in Bali. The Trade Facilitation Agreement was a key outcome in Bali and we are now in the process of implementation with a protocol of amendment to be agreed by the end of July. This protocol allows the Trade Facilitation Agreement to be formally adopted as a WTO legal text. But it does not become a legal text until members accept this and they have to do this by 31 July. Other important issues relating to agriculture and development issues are also being advanced.

Delivering the support that was promised to developing countries to help with the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will be vital.

We are taking action on this and in the coming days I will be announcing a new WTO facility to ensure that the necessary support reaches all members of the WTO without exception.

Of course, Australia has been very supportive of this — as it has been when it comes to providing aid to support trade in developing countries, particularly in the region. I certainly hope that Australia will be actively involved and will support our new Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility.

Our second priority is to tackle the Doha Round negotiations.

In Bali, ministers instructed us to prepare, by December this year, a clearly defined work programme on how to conclude the Doha Round.

We need to decide, once and for all, whether we are going to do the Doha Round or not.  If ‘yes’, then let’s do it quickly. We cannot afford another decade. I’m not going to give you a deadline but we have to do it quickly. And we can. We know where and what the problems are. But if ‘no’, then let’s be honest about it and let’s figure out how the negotiating function of the organisation can be reactivated in a balanced and feasible way.

Now, I will be honest with you, some people roll their eyes when we talk about Doha. Negotiations on the Doha agenda have been running since 2001 — that’s far too long. And so I think some fatigue or scepticism is inevitable.

But the WTO is a different place now — there is a new sense of momentum.

So far this year I’ve met leaders on five continents, in over 20 countries — including WTO members at all stages of development.  Some of those were precisely the ones who had the biggest problems in 2008 when we reached an impasse and the negotiations stalled.

In all cases, I have been pleased and encouraged by the support we’ve received — and particularly that there is strong support to get this done quickly. The only thing they tell me is “please don’t fail again.”

Earlier today I had meetings with Andrew Robb and other key Ministers here in Canberra and I am very grateful for the support they also offered.

And there are some very significant issues on the table. For Australia there is important unfinished business in areas such as agriculture and services exports. Moreover, if we can complete the Round it will then allow other issues to be discussed and advanced at the multilateral level for the first time in many, many years.

And we are making progress on the big issues of agriculture, industrial goods and services for the first time in six years.

There is consensus that we will need to deliver results in agriculture, services and industrial goods.

And members have agreed a set of principles to guide discussions: such as doability, open-mindedness, respecting the red lines of the others and keeping development as a central goal.

Realism will be key.

I think we need to understand this is not the round to end all rounds. This is not the end of the road.

Doha has become monolithic in people’s minds. But we don’t have to solve all of our problems in one go — Doha is not a one-off.

It’s a step in the continuous process of trade liberalisation. Let’s take steps that are commensurate with the length of our legs.

I have recently signalled the need to move our Doha work into a new phase.

We now need to focus on resolving the problems that we have been outlining, testing what went wrong and putting forward potential solutions.

So there will be some tough conversations ahead of us in the coming months.

Very few members have demands across all three of these major issues — and therefore we need to begin to identify potential trade-offs.

For example — if you’re ambitious on industrial goods, what kind of contribution can you offer on agriculture — and vice versa? When I ask people “tell me what you can deliver?” they always say this: “It depends.” But we have to put the kind of pressure on members where they say not what they want for the others but what they can deliver themselves.

Our work is going to be stepping up as we get nearer to the December deadline. And so urgency also remains a key factor.

CONCLUSION

To conclude, I want to return to the question I posed at the start of my remarks, which is: whether our success in Bali will prove to be transformative for the WTO.

So given where we are today I think the answer is clear: yes, it will be transformative — if we want it to be.

Bali has created the opportunity to herald a new era in the WTO. But whether we take this opportunity is up to the members. It will be a question of political will.

And I have no doubt Australia will play an important role — including this year during its G-20 presidency.

I am confident that you will continue to engage in the negotiations and help to conclude the Doha Round once and for all.

Australia has always been at the centre of the debate, helping to shape solutions, present new ideas and think creatively when talks hit rocky ground.

That pragmatic streak is what we need now.

Bali showed that multilateralism can work — and that we can deliver outcomes which will boost trade, support development and improve people’s lives.

So let’s do it again.

Thank you.

 

OMA / ASEM 13 noviembre, 2022 18:12

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