WTO reform and preparations for the 12th WTO ministerial conference
Ministers discussed preparations for the 12th World Trade Organization ministerial conference (CM12), which will take place in Geneva from 12 to 15 June 2022 against the backdrop of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ministers expressed broad support for the Commission’s suggested line of action for the 12th ministerial conference, in particular regarding the possible outcomes, such as:
- a ministerial declaration on the WTO’s response to global trade challenges with reference to the reform of the organisation, dispute settlement, development and the environment
- a declaration on the WTO’s response to the pandemic and a decision on the waiver of trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS)
- decisions in support of food security, together with work programmes aimed at moving forward on the 13th ministerial conference on agriculture reform
- the conclusion of the fisheries subsidies negotiations
- the extension of the moratorium on e-commerce until CM13
Ministers also expressed their solidarity with Ukraine and their concern over the repercussions of the Russia’s war of aggression, supported by Belarus, against Ukraine on world trade and on the future results of CM12.
The Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) will meet again in Geneva on 12 June in the margins of the WTO ministerial conference, as well as at the end of it.
EU-US trade relations
The Council held an exchange of views on the current state of EU-US trade relations and recent developments, including the results of the 12th meeting of the EU–US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) held on 16 May at Paris-Saclay, and the outlook for those relations.
Ministers highlighted the positive dynamic in relations with the US. Regarding recent developments, ministers stressed that the consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on the geopolitical situation made relations with the US all the more important. In that context, ministers expressed their commitment to advancing a positive, forward-looking transatlantic agenda.
The Council praised the work of the TTC as an important factor in restoring a culture of cooperation, while respecting the regulatory autonomy of the EU and the US.
Ministers expressed their commitment to continuing their intensive work with a view to achieving further concrete results before the next TTC meeting, which will take place before the end of the year.
To maintain the current positive momentum in bilateral trade relations, ministers stressed the importance to continue working to definitively settle existing disputes (e.g. over the Airbus/Boeing subsidies and over ‘Section 232’ tariffs on European steel and aluminium) and to prevent new barriers to bilateral trade from arising.
In order to maintain the current positive momentum in bilateral trade relations, ministers stressed the importance of continuing to work on the final settlement of existing disputes (e.g. Airbus/Boeing subsidies and European steel and aluminium tariffs under “Section 232”) and of preventing the emergence of new barriers to bilateral trade.
EU-China trade relations
Ministers took stock of the recent developments and main orientations in trade relations with China, particularly with an eye to an EU-China high-level economic and trade dialogue.
Ministers reaffirmed the conclusions of the EU-China summit on 1 April 2022, in which the EU stressed the need to address long-standing concerns about market access and investment conditions in China, in order to ensure balanced and reciprocal trade and economic relations. On that occasion, EU and Chinese leaders also mandated the high-level economic and trade dialogue to find tangible ways to make progress on these issues before the summer. Ministers also addressed barriers to trade and investment in China, including the coercive measures against Lithuania.
Lastly, ministers noted the importance of strong engagement with China, while strengthening the EU’s resilience through autonomous measures.
More information: European Council – Press release