Debate on Trade with Daniel J. Costello and Karl Brauner - Group III Meeting, 23/01/2019

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On 23rd January, two guest speakers took the floor with our Members during the thematic session on ‘Trade’

The Ambassador of Canada to the European Union, Mr Daniel J. Costello intervened on the advantages and successes of CETA and on the lessons learned from the negotiating process.

Diversity is a fact but inclusion is a choice.

After having mentioned the rapid advances in technology, the global shifts in the political and economic balance and the impact of climate change, the Canadian Ambassador underlined the current crisis of confidence towards liberal democracy and the ongoing fears that have to be directly confronted in order to counter the rise of nationalism, protectionism, unilateral measures and the tendency to blame multilateral cooperation.

Mr Daniel J. Costello stated that it is crucial that we keep on working multilaterally for more open societies, fair and inclusive trade.

The global rules system has brought us shared security, prosperity and common values that we cannot take for granted (…) The best in CETA is that it brings us together. It just does not bring European and Canadian businesses together. It brings together policy makers, researchers, students, tourists…

Opening services and investments, providing access to government procurement, supporting labour mobility, sharing values, engaging in dialogues and commitments to respect each other standards and to raise standards were presented by the Ambassador as significant successes of the CETA Agreement.

A few lessons could be drawn from the process by the Ambassador regarding stakeholders, transparency and inclusiveness, in terms of negotiation and promotion.

Explicit commitments in areas of deepest concerns (labour, environment, sustainable development) have also been emphasised by the Ambassador:

  • Increasing dialogue on trade and gender by recommitting to the importance of the full participation of women in the economy
  • Commitments on climate action, on cooperation on trade related to environmental priorities, on jointly working on how trade agreements can facilitate access to cleaner and greener technologies to meet Paris commitments and to go beyond
  • Commitments on SMEs through specific initiatives in order to promote CETA to SMEs so that they share information and measure success impacts across sectors

In his presentation, Mr Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General of the WTO, explained the positive responses by the WTO to the requests of civil society:

  • WTO Initiatives in e-commerce, investments, micro SMEs, services domestic regulation, labour standards and women-led enterprises ;
  • A WTO report on trade, gender and climate change to be presented on the 8th of March, on international women’s day ;
  • A module on trade and gender on how domestic support in agriculture can be used to empower women ;
  • A rules based trade with sustainable development as a recognised objective ;
  • Discussions by WTO members on the circular economy, climate change, oceans and fuel subsidies

Both presentations led to lively discussions with our Members on a wide range of topics, including:

  • The own-initiative opinion from the REX section - REX/509 – Reforming the WTO to adapt to developments in world trade
  • Transparency issues
  • Concerns about GMOs and traceability
  • The inclusion of farmers in globalized trade
  • Concerns about the rural workers’ poverty and the food sovereignty
  • Measuring sustainability
  • Animal welfare standards and sustainability of food production
  • The impact on micro SMEs
  • The labour market in 15-20 years in the context of digitalization, robotisation and AI
  • Trade inclusiveness in the future