Buenos Aires, Viernes, 30 de Septiembre
9 diciembre, 2014 0:01 Imprimir

Azevêdo dice que el aumento de las restricciones al comercio “causa preocupación”

 

 

El Director General Roberto Azevêdo, al presentar el 8 de diciembre su informe anual sobre la evolución del entorno comercial internacional al Órgano de Examen de las Políticas Comerciales, dijo que “el número de restricciones al comercio introducidas por los Miembros de la OMC desde 2008 sigue aumentando”. Añadió que “en un clima de incertidumbre económica, la continua acumulación de medidas de restricción del comercio es un riesgo evidente” El Director General dijo lo siguiente:

(de momento sólo en inglés)

Thank you Madam Chairperson.

Good afternoon everyone.

As you know, we like to have balance at the WTO — in all things we do.

So while the Special General Council on 27 November provided us with the excellent news that our negotiating work is back on track, inevitably there was going to be some not-so-good news somewhere else.

You have all seen my annual report on developments in the international trading environment, which was circulated on 24 November.

This report brings news of some real challenges in the international trading environment — challenges which require our attention, and the attention of policy-makers around the world.

The report provides information on trade‑restrictive, as well as trade-facilitating measures, taken by WTO members in the field of trade in goods and services.

It covers the period running from mid-November 2013 to mid-October 2014.

It also covers other relevant trade policy developments, including:

  • trade policy reviews conducted in 2014,
  • regional trade agreements,
  • the Government Procurement Agreement,
  • the operation of transparency provisions contained in the various WTO agreements,
  • trade finance, and
  • dispute settlement.

This meeting gives us the opportunity to look back at all these issues that have emerged over the course of the year and to consider how members might respond.

I will set out some of the key findings of the report in a moment, but first I would like to say a few words on the process of preparing this document.

The information on country-specific measures identified in the section dealing with trade in services and in the four annexes is based on inputs submitted by members and other official and public sources.

Members concerned have had an opportunity to verify the accuracy of this information.

I would like to thank the delegations who have participated in this exercise by providing relevant information on time and by ensuring subsequent verification of reported measures.

These inputs not only help expand the coverage of the report, they are also crucial in ensuring the accuracy of the information contained in the report.

At the same time, it is unfortunate that, as in previous years, many members continue to fail to participate actively in this process.

Just 37% of members responded to the request to submit information on their new trade measures. This is slightly up from 35% in 2013 — but of course it is still far too low.

It is also a matter of concern that even when members participate in this information-gathering process, they often do not provide information on certain types of measures — especially on so-called behind-the-border measures, including general economic support.

There are of course other organizations that monitor developments in the application of trade measures — and the findings in their reports sometimes differ from ours.

We have carefully studied the methodologies used in those reports but remain confident that our work here provides a sound and realistic picture of current trade policy developments around the world.

Finally, let me stress that this report is a constantly evolving product.

As you will have noticed, we have made certain changes in order to present the main findings of the report in a clearer, more accessible way. We have also provided data on how the number of trade-restrictive and trade‑facilitating measures has evolved since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Let me now turn to the substance of the report.

Rather than simply listing the findings, I would like to draw out what I consider to be the significant policy issues affecting the trading system that have emerged in the current reporting period.

In a climate of global economic uncertainty the continued accumulation of trade-restrictive measures pose a clear risk.

Current prospects for world output and trade are far from favourable.

During the course of the year, lower-than-expected GDP growth has led our economists to downgrade their forecasts for world trade growth to 3.1% in 2014 and 4% in 2015.

These rates are higher than in 2012 and 2013. But they are significantly lower than the average growth rate in the 20 years prior to the global financial crisis of 2008.

Some argue that this slower growth of world trade is now a permanent feature of the global economy.

Against this backdrop, recent trends in trade policy actions of members are a cause for concern.

The report points out that the stock of trade restrictions introduced by WTO members since 2008 continues to rise.

Of the 2,146 trade-restrictive measures introduced since 2008, only 508 have been removed — that’s just 24%.

The total number of trade-restrictive measures still in place now stands at 1,638.

The report also notes that the number of new trade‑restrictive measures introduced during the period under review is quite high, at 168.

The average number of new trade-restrictive measures per month is higher in this period than in any other period since October 2008.

While we have also witnessed a substantial increase in the number of trade‑liberalizing measures, this should not detract from the overall picture.

In addition, there is some evidence that, more recently, the application of trade-restrictive measures is leading to heightened friction between members on trade issues.

Aside from the increase in the number of dispute settlement panels, members have increasingly voiced concerns regarding specific measures taken by other members in WTO subsidiary bodies, such as the Council for Trade in Goods.

In this context, members should strive to show greater restraint in the imposition of new trade‑restrictive measures, eliminate existing trade restrictions, and contribute to enhancing transparency on behind-the-border measures.

A second important policy issue identified in this report is the relationship between regional trade agreements (RTAs) and the multilateral trading system. This is of course not a new issue but the report makes some interesting observations based on recent research.

As of mid-October 2014, the WTO had been notified of 253 regional trade agreements. However, there are also 63 regional trade agreements in force that have not yet been notified to the WTO.

And of course negotiations on new RTAs are under way. In some cases these negotiations are between parties that account for very substantial shares of world trade and GDP.

Given the growth in the number and the changing scope and coverage of RTAs, there is clearly a need for a better understanding of the relationship of these agreements with the multilateral trading system.

Building on recent research undertaken by the WTO Secretariat, the report provides an analysis of the extent to which provisions in RTAs actually go beyond the multilateral rules contained in the WTO Agreement. You may recall that this was also the subject of a seminar held here at the WTO in September on cross-cutting issues in RTAs.

As I have said before, bilateral and regional trade liberalization initiatives are welcome as long as they do not impose additional barriers to trade, and constitute building blocks towards trade liberalization.

However, we cannot expect them to substitute the multilateral trading system.

There are many subjects that by their very nature require a multilateral approach to be dealt with efficiently — such as trade facilitation, agricultural and fisheries subsidies, disciplines on trade remedies, regulation of financial services and telecommunications, and so on. It is a long list.

Also, these initiatives mostly exclude the smallest and most vulnerable countries and do not fully address the gains from trade that can be obtained through global value chains. Therefore, while we welcome RTAs, we cannot ignore their obvious limitations or the need to avoid harmful effects to third parties.

Another issue to be mindful of is the potential complexity that may result from the existence of different sets of rules and regulations developed in these RTAs, which may be burdensome for traders and business.

We must continue to deepen our understanding in this area to ensure that RTAs and the multilateral system can move forward together, complementing each other, and in the most effective way possible.

Therefore I think we should welcome the initial steps that we have taken in this report and commit to taking this work further in 2015.

Moving on, the third policy issue is that, although improvements were made in some areas of our work in the WTO, compliance with various transparency mechanisms remains unsatisfactory. Again, this is not a new issue.

Section 4 of the report contains a detailed overview of how members have complied with the various notification requirements contained in the WTO Agreement.

Let me just cite a few examples to illustrate the seriousness of the problem that we face in this area of our work.

With respect to the Agreement on Agriculture, the report notes that compliance with notification obligations in the areas of domestic support and export subsidies generally remains below 50%.

In the case of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement, the report notes that the percentage of members that do not submit notifications on subsidies has risen from 27% in 1995 to 44% in 2013.

Regarding state-trading enterprises, the percentage of members that do not make any notification has increased from 37% in 1995 to 66% in 2012.

In light of this, I think there is an urgent need to improve compliance with the transparency provisions in the WTO Agreement.

These provisions are essential to ensure that members have the necessary information to understand each other’s trade policies, to ensure that WTO agreements are properly implemented, and to avoid unnecessary trade disputes.

So these are some key points which I think we should take away from this report.

And, in closing, I would just like to leave you with three thoughts as we look towards our work in 2015.

First, I think we would all agree that one of the key reasons that we value the multilateral trading system is because it is a proven bulwark against protectionism. We saw this in the response to the financial crisis, where the mistakes of the past were not repeated.

But preserving the system takes effort and commitment.

And therefore I think we must ensure that the policy issues raised in this report receive the full and urgent attention that they deserve.

Second, we must deliver on the commitments we made at the Special General Council on 27 November to implement all of the Bali decisions and to develop a work programme on the remaining Doha Development Agenda issues.

If we see this work through, we could provide a much-needed boost to economic growth and productivity — at the same time as immeasurably strengthening the multilateral system.

Third, we must also recognize that our experience in 2014 has made it clear that we need to find ways to operate more efficiently.

We have shown that we can deliver. Now we need to figure out how to deliver more and how to deliver faster.

So, thank you Madam Chairperson; this concludes my statement.

But, before I leave, I would like to thank delegations once again for their contributions to this report, and of course the Secretariat for their work in preparing it.

I would like also to thank delegations in advance for their contributions and ideas this afternoon. We will take careful note of your comments, and will take them into account as we prepare for the monitoring work next year.

Finally, I want to inform delegations that I will be sending out the usual request for information for the next monitoring reports in the first half of March.

I would like to encourage you all to participate in the monitoring exercise and cooperate with the Secretariat as much as possible.

I think we should aim to deliver a higher level of transparency and accuracy of information in 2015.

Thank you.

 

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