14th December 2017
The WTO Ministerial Conference – MC 11 – concluded today in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the Irish delegation was led by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD.
In his address to the Conference on Monday, Minister Breen stressed Ireland’s continued “strong support for the WTO and a fair, balanced and rules based multilateral trading system”, noting that “growing trade is key to maintaining and growing jobs for our citizens”. He also called on other WTO member states to “engage at the Conference in a constructive and positive spirit, and to be responsive to global developments”. He particularly stressed the importance of making progress in relation to e-Commerce given the rapid global growth of digitisation and its impact on our economies and everyday lives.
At the formal negotiations, Ireland like the other EU Member States, is represented by the European Commission with Member State Ministers giving political direction on various items. In that respect, the EU emphasised on behalf of its Member States that we remain fully committed to preserving and strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core.
The EU remains strongly committed to advancing in the WTO on other issues, including as e-commerce and SMEs and, in that regard, welcomed the Joint Statement on eCommerce, which the EU had actively supported and the Joint Ministerial Statements on the establishment of an informal work programme for MSMEs (micro, small and medium sized enterprises), on investment facilitation for development, and on services and domestic regulation among supporting WTO members.
The Minister also supported the launching of the Women in Trade initiative to eliminate discrimination in Trade and promoting economic empowerment.
During his visit, the Minister took the opportunity to hold a wide range of bilateral meetings including with the US Trade Representative; the UK Secretary of State for International Trade and the Trade Minister, and counterparts from Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Discussions were also held with the European Commissioners for Trade and for Agriculture and Minister Breen congratulated the Conference Chairperson, Susana Malcorra for her excellent chairing of the conference.
In his dialogue with the European Commissioners, Minister Breen discussed Ireland’s position in relation to the EU’s negotiations of a Free Trade Agreement with South America’s Mercosur bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) which are well advanced.
Speaking before his departure from the Conference, Minister Breen reiterated Ireland’s support for the WTO saying “This conference may prove to be a turning point for the WTO when ministers have had an opportunity to reflect on the importance of multilateralism in trade. I am pleased that we have been able to agree effective work programmes on a number of key issues. I have held many meetings with other Ministers during my time here and I have been heartened to hear about their continued support for the WTO. It has also been an excellent opportunity to advance cooperation between Ireland and a wide range of countries, which should bring real benefits to our economy and citizens into the future.”
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