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Statement of the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO

Within the framework of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO adopted the statement below inviting the members of the WTO to make every effort to achieve concrete results during the negotiations of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).

The Parliamentary Conference on the WTO is a joint initiative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the European Parliament and serves as a forum for the exchange of opinions, information and experience, as well as the promotion of common action on topics relating to the role of parliaments in addressing trade issues. The Steering Committee is its supporting body and responsible for all matters relating to the organization of the Conference.

Statement of the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO
13 June 2022 Geneva

We, members of the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO, reaffirm our commitment to ensuring an open, transparent, inclusive, rules-based, non-discriminatory and predictable multilateral trading system with special and differential treatment for developing countries and the WTO at its core, and remain certain that free and fair trade is among the most powerful engines for growth, supporting millions of jobs, contributing to human development and prosperity, and advancing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

We are convinced that, at a time when it is coming increasingly under pressure, multilateralism remains the best approach available. We are further convinced of the importance of restoring trust in the WTO, as a multilateral organization, by bringing it closer to the citizens and their concerns. The continued involvement of parliamentarians will be crucial in this regard, especially in reforming, harmonizing and implementing laws, policies and regulatory frameworks for economic growth. We call on WTO Members to strengthen the parliamentary dimension of the WTO and to establish a formal working relationship with the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO.

We believe that MC12 can offer a great opportunity to reinstate trust in the multilateral trading system and should be the starting point for modernizing and reforming the WTO to ensure it can play a role in addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century, including issues such as climate change and sustainability and in particular today, global food security.

In light of the post-COVID recovery and the necessity to build a resilient society, we urge all Members to step up efforts on ensuring tangible outcomes that show that the WTO can address current challenges and create a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive trading system for an inclusive recovery. We value the key features of the dispute settlement system that support rules-based trade. We therefore ask Members, as a minimum, to reach multilateral agreements on prohibiting unsustainable fisheries subsidies and on pandemic response, including on its TRIPS dimension, to establish a limited package on agriculture, and to launch work towards necessary institutional reform, including a process that would lead to a well-functioning, binding and two-tier dispute settlement system by MC13 at the latest.

We believe that MC12 should renew the WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions. We also acknowledge the role of plurilateral initiatives and negotiations to support the WTO. We call on the WTO to work towards achieving meaningful results on e-commerce by MC13.

As we are committed to the respect of international law, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, we are also gravely concerned about the situation in Ukraine, including its local, regional and global impacts on food security, hunger and all forms of malnutrition, adding to the already severe situation caused by COVID-19, and on world socio-political stability. Therefore, we are asking the members concerned to take necessary actions to restore peace and Ukrainian territorial integrity through diplomacy and dialogue.

IPU Secretariat. Geneva