Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-11-30-Speech-3-027"

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". Mr President, this is an important debate. Much rides on the Doha Round: for us in Europe, for developing countries and indeed for the whole of the global economy. In just over one week, the Hong Kong WTO ministerial will begin. I know some of you will be there, so it is essential that I report to you formally on where we stand and that we discuss the situation that this round faces. Let us be clear about the value of our offer on agriculture. It goes much further than we went in the Uruguay Round. It has to be seen as a whole, not just in terms of the tariff reductions that we are tabling, but including our major contributions on reducing domestic support through CAP reform and our offer to eliminate export subsidies altogether. We will reduce trade distorting subsidies by 70%. Already under the 2003 CAP reform, 90% of direct payments to farmers will no longer distort trade. Under our proposal, our average agricultural tariff will fall from 23% to 12%, which incidentally is the same as the current US level. Taken as a whole, this is the most substantial offer ever made by the European Union in any trade round. Each element of it – not just the tariff cuts – will provide substantial improvement in market access, as required under the 2004 Framework Agreement. It will create significant opportunities for agricultural exporters without wiping out preferential access for poor developing countries or doing excessive damage to our own agricultural sector in Europe. We have to strike a balance. In my view this is the right balance to strike. We have a responsibility to take into account the impact of reform on European farming communities. What is more, this is a round for developing countries, notably the poor and needy ones, and not just for competitive agricultural producers who should not seek, in my view, to maximise their own competitive advantage in world markets at the expense of other developing countries in the WTO. We saw last week with sugar how sensitive the problem of preference erosion for needy ACP countries is. It behoves us all, not just in Europe but in the WTO membership as a whole, to take this fully into account. We ignore this at everyone’s peril: those whose livelihoods are threatened by it and those who will bear responsibility if they do not respond to the issue of preference erosion. Our offer is therefore substantial, measured and credible. It has injected realism into the agricultural negotiations. Whereas the US demands on tariff reductions and – to a lesser extent – the G20 proposals would without doubt benefit these countries, they would also have a devastating employment effect on our own farmers and on poor countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, much of whose agricultural trade, if we were to accept these demands, would simply be wiped out. Let us therefore be very clear. I have no plan to make a further offer in agriculture. This is not justified and would further unbalance the negotiations. The time has come for others to match the effort we have made. Governments and citizens in Europe need to believe that structural change and possible job losses in agriculture will be balanced by the creation of new jobs and new opportunities in other sectors. That is why our negotiating objectives on non-agricultural market access, on industrial goods and services are so important. They are crucial to growth and jobs in Europe and are a vital part of the Lisbon Agenda. I will vigorously pursue these interests and, in agriculture, I will also insist on an agreement on, and an extension of, a register of geographical indications. That is how multilateral negotiation works. There have to be gains all round. That means that others now have to engage seriously in creating new market access for goods and services, which matter not only to Europe but also to the world economy and, crucially, to development. This means cutting industrial tariffs as they actually applied, not only lowering bound levels agreed 12 years ago in the Uruguay Round. This, after all, will be the effect of our proposals in agriculture because, unlike many developing countries, our bound and applied tariffs are usually the same. This does not mean going back on our commitment that developed countries will do more than developing countries. Of course we will. We do not expect offers from the least-developed and other weak and vulnerable countries. Nor do we expect other developing countries to match the level of market opening by developed countries. But they must do something. That is the principle of this round. We also need progress in trade in services. The current negotiating approach based on requests and offers has not yielded satisfactory results. We need to create a platform for genuine multilateral negotiation which, so far, does not exist. This reflects the importance of services in the modern world economy. It is important not just to us but to developing countries as well. These countries must clearly remain free in services to pursue national policy objectives and fully to safeguard their national right to regulate. What we seek is equal treatment for foreign service suppliers in some sectors, not a commitment to deregulate markets or privatise existing operators. Here again, our proposal excludes weak and vulnerable countries and gives flexibility to other developing countries. We are far from where we hoped to be. Like Pascal Lamy, I had hoped that in Hong Kong we would be able to complete two thirds of the work of the round, notably by agreeing full modalities in the main areas of negotiation. The reason we have not achieved this is simply that after we agreed on the framework agreement in July 2004, the talks were simply becalmed. Some negotiators went through a period of posturing which we were able to break only in July of this year. Although the United States finally put forward an agriculture offer in October, this was many months later than we had hoped. The EU responded within the same month with our own agriculture market access offer. Still others continued to frustrate the negotiation. For far too long we have been stuck on one issue and one set of interests – that of large-scale agriculture exporters – rather than pushing ahead on the whole Doha agenda. To conclude, I will do my utmost to make a success of Hong Kong, to lock in the progress we have made and to establish a platform for us to finish the job in 2006. Above all, it is essential that the meeting does not end in acrimony. I will defend and explain Europe’s proposals. I will pursue Europe’s interests and I will maintain the ambition of the round as a whole, building consensus whenever and wherever it is possible to do so with our negotiating partners. I hope that they will do likewise. They must stop hiding behind unfounded criticism of the European Union; stop hiding behind patently unrealistic and tactical demands, and join in a real negotiation on all the issues. If they continue merely to ask for more from Europe without paying into the pot themselves, they – not we – risk destroying this round. They will come away, if that happens, with nothing at all. Let us rather work together for an outcome that boosts the world’s economy, generates political confidence and helps the world’s poor. That is how we went into this round; that is how we want to come out of it. The possibility still exists, the need is as urgent now as it was when we began the round. Everyone must now pull together to make it happen and achieve the objectives that we first set out for ourselves when we agreed the Doha Charter all those years ago. So, although it is fashionable to blame the European Union for holding up this round by being reticent on agriculture, in fact the opposite is the truth. We have moved the round forward in agriculture, not just once, but three times in the last eighteen months. The truth is that others have been holding back, not because we have done or offered too little, but because they have been demanding too much. This is a development round, not an agricultural exporters’ round, and the two should not be confused. In view of this delay, rather than go to Hong Kong with great expectations and an equally great risk of failure, WTO members, on the advice of Pascal Lamy, decided to lower the ambition for this meeting. I was the last one reluctantly to accept this, but in doing so, I made clear that it cannot mean lowering ambition for the round as a whole. We must still aim for a successful outcome across the whole negotiating agenda, delivering significant development gains by the end of next year. Let us be clear, the Doha Round is too big to fail. It is not just about trade, it is about maintaining the credibility of multilateral cooperation; showing that multilateral institutions can find global answers to global issues; proving that trade genuinely can be put at the service of development. The best way to promote development is to open new trading opportunities to developing countries and then help them with aid to exploit those opportunities. This is even more true for industrial goods and services than it is for agriculture trade, and it is true especially for trade between developing countries. The biggest trade opportunities for developing countries are with other developing countries. The biggest obstacles to this trade are the tariffs on industrial goods that exist between developing countries. I regret that we will not be able to advance this substantially in Hong Kong. That is why we need a tailored development package for the poorest countries, not as a substitute for what we could achieve later, but as a down payment on it. The main elements of my development proposal which I first made at the Zurich mini-ministerial in October and for which I have been pressing since are: first, all industrialised WTO members should commit to providing duty- and quota-free access to all products from the least developed countries; second, we should adopt a package of special and differential treatment proposals to confirm the flexibilities for those LDCs that exist in the WTO; third, we must enshrine in the WTO’s intellectual property agreements conditions for better access to cheap drugs against pandemics; and fourth, we should adopt a strong aid for trade package along the lines of what was agreed at the Gleneagles G8 Summit. The Commission has set an example with the EUR 1 billion per year pledge made by President Barroso at the G8. I hope the WTO partners can agree to these ideas in Hong Kong. Let me turn now to other aspects of the negotiations. On 28 October, the EU put a comprehensive negotiating offer on the table, including on agricultural market access. This created a much-needed opportunity to move the whole round forward. It was a necessary and right thing to do, as it allowed us to have the first real negotiations at the political level on industrial goods and services, anti-dumping rules and development. It began to rebalance the round. I deeply regret that, rather than seizing this opportunity and building on it, our negotiating partners decided to take the easy way out, rejecting our offer on agriculture and criticising it – often in immoderate terms – rather than engaging with it and enabling us to move forward."@en1

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