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ACP Trade Ministers reaffirm strong commitment to multilateral system

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Brussels, 20 October 2017/ ACP: Ministers and senior officials responsible for Trade from 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries reaffirmed their strong and resounding commitment to the multilateral trading system, at the conclusion of the 20th ACP Ministerial Trade Committee meeting held in Brussels on 18-19 October.

The meeting, chaired by the Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana Hon. Carl B. Greenidge focussed on enhancing intra-ACP trade, including through a joint approach to commodities and agricultural value chains, as well as examining trade issues between the ACP and EU countries. This was in preparation for joint meetings with the European Commission on 20 October, covering Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), trade regime issues, capacity building, and non-cooperative tax jurisdictions amongst others.

Ministers also discussed critical elements related to the 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be held 10-13 December in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The MC11 meeting will bring together more than 160 countries to continue multilateral negotiations on rules for international trade amongst members.

"The rules-based multilateral system must be sustained as it promotes a fairer trading system that increases opportunities for developing countries, including those in the ACP Group of States," said ACP Secretary General H.E. Dr. Patrick Gomes. "However, this system is under threat today, and the changing dynamics in the WTO negotiations are undoubtedly making the achievement of development-oriented results difficult."

Ministers heard presentations from the Director General of the WTO, Mr. Roberto Azevedo, the Chair of the WTO Ministerial Conference, Amb. Susana Malcorra of Argentina, as well as the Coordinator of the ACP Group in Geneva, Amb. John Ronald Deep Ford of Guyana. They reported on preparations for MC11, including challenges in terms of the level of ambition and nature of expected results.

During the meeting, ACP ministers urged concrete outcomes at the forthcoming MC11 meeting in Buenos Aires, to send a strong message that the multilateral system works. At the same time, the imperative for outcomes at MC11 be aligned with the globally endorsed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 14.6 on fisheries to protect the world fishing stocks, and SDG 2 to end hunger by advancing food security through public stockholding.

Ministers called for inclusiveness, consensus and transparency in all WTO decision-making processes, as well as careful framing of any reform evaluation of the WTO to ensure that the interests of all countries are protected. A robust MC11 work programme must be formulated, characterised by strong commitment to development, while recognising differences between developed, developing and least developed countries.

The meeting highlighted the need to more proactively recognise and implement rules that enable recovery and development of small vulnerable economies, which are especially exposed to external shocks, including natural disasters. Representatives also committed to increased integration, unity and solidarity of the ACP Group of States, including taking more joint ACP approaches to trade and development.

These elements are captured in a declaration by the ministers on the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, where Guyana will act as the spokesperson for the ACP Group. /

 

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