November 21, 2005
Our organizations represent business from many countries and regions around the world, accounting for around 65% of all global trade. We have come together--united by a common vision--to advocate for the liberalization of global trade and the concomitant economic benefits for all countries through the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations. Through multilateral trade liberalization, we can continue to expand the sphere of economic opportunity, and strengthen the rules that support the global trading system, while countering the unproductive instincts of protectionism and unilateralism.
The final Doha agreement needs to ensure that all WTO Members, notably developing countries, participate in and benefit from the gains of trade liberalization. This requires genuine market liberalization by all countries, since an ambitious outcome of the DDA will generate substantial economic growth for the global economy at large. We must therefore commit to the success of the Hong Kong Ministerial and the conclusion of the DDA by the end of 2006.
Because of its critical importance to global development, we call on political leaders to demonstrate greater vision, ambition, and responsibility and to commit to meaningful outcomes in the DDA negotiations. Now is the time to put short-term politics aside and aggressively pursue the level of progress that will guarantee the conclusion of the DDA by the end of 2006. There has already been too much delay. Nevertheless, it is still possible to achieve ambitious and concrete results that will produce tangible economic benefits for all countries by the end of the negotiations in 2006.
The Hong Kong Ministerial is a critical milestone for the DDA and the framework for the successful conclusion of the DDA must be achieved in all areas of the negotiations: industrial market access, services, agriculture, trade facilitation and rules. Such progress will only be realized if all WTO Members demonstrate willingness to compromise throughout the negotiations.
WTO membership (149 countries and growing) is truly representative of the global community, comprised of developed, rapidly emerging countries, and many poorer countries. WTO rules need to recognize those differences and specific development needs. While we believe that multilateral trade liberalization will promote development among the broader WTO membership, and we strongly support the development focus of this trade round, we also believe that these results can best be realized through comprehensive trade liberalization. As such, each country's contribution to the DDA should therefore include an understanding of its economic development. We especially hope that the DDA would lead to improved trading opportunities for the least developed countries. Appropriate and effective technical assistance should be developed in close cooperation with the countries concerned.
We, as business organizations, firmly believe that trade liberalization is, over the medium and long term, economically beneficial to all WTO members. Market forces should guide agriculture development with the efficient allocation of resources based on comparative and competitive advantage for all countries. Therefore, the final agriculture agreement should substantially improve market access and lead to the elimination of all types of trade distorting subsidies in all countries in a coherent and progressive manner.
A substantial share of the benefits of the DDA will result from agricultural liberalization and the introduction of stronger market incentives. Only balanced and ambitious liberalization in all three pillars of the agriculture negotiations will genuinely open markets. All WTO members need to contribute to agricultural liberalization although the poorest countries should be given more flexibility. The aim should be to significantly reduce higher levels of protection and support in order to provide real market opportunities. The result of the DDA should be a substantially liberalized global agricultural market.
Reducing/eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers ranks among the key objectives of the WTO. The DDA must genuinely provide new market access by substantially reducing or eliminating tariffs among, at minimum, the developed and emerging countries through a non-linear formula and a voluntary sector approach. We also urge governments to engage more thoroughly on the issue of non-tariff barriers with the aim of effectively removing these hindrances to international trade. Both horizontal and sectoral approaches should be used to remove NTBs. Industrial market access (NAMA) negotiations should lead to greatly increased trade opportunities for all countries.
The underwhelming level of ambition shown in the DDA Services negotiations thus far is regrettable and must be turned around. We urge all WTO Members to vastly improve their GATS offers to provide genuine new business opportunities. Services liberalization will generate new export opportunities and help attract foreign investment -- thus improving the services sectors and contributing to the local economy of all WTO Members. Regardless of negotiating approaches, services must be substantially liberalized while respecting the right of WTO Members to regulate in a non-discriminatory manner. Binding current practices would constitute a minimum step forward but business is also looking for concrete new market access.
Few businesses involved in trade relish the frustrations, complexities, delays and costs associated with border procedures (fees, formalities, transit). We call on WTO Members to pursue far-reaching negotiations on a reviewable trade facilitation agreement, which aims to reduce trade transaction costs while improving the transparency and automation of procedures and thus enhancing efficiency and reducing possibilities of corruption. We recognize that the poorest countries need technical assistance to ensure that they too can benefit from a trade facilitation agreement and we urge our governments and relevant international organizations to provide the most effective assistance possible to achieve that aim.
Business requires a predictable and transparent rules-based trading environment and agrees that the implementation of the multilateral rules governing anti-dumping/anti-subsidy and regional trading arrangements needs to be interpreted in a similar way by all countries to establish a level playing field. While the WTO Anti-dumping Agreement and the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement (ASCM) remain fundamentally well-founded in their principles and objectives, WTO Members should work constructively in Hong Kong and in 2006 to outline the provisions that all Members can agree need to be clarified in order to ensure that all countries play by the same rules and that enforced measures are objective and fact-based, transparent, fair and compliant with predictable and due process. An acceptable compromise on this issue that seeks to achieve reductions in dumping and subsidization by all parties should be agreed the end of the DDA negotiations.
We support progress on the rest of the DDA issues to arrive at a comprehensive package for all WTO Members.
We are committed to making the Hong Kong Ministerial a success. It is the final staging post to the conclusion of an ambitious DDA by the end of 2006. We will therefore continue to work together in support of achieving substantial commitments to trade liberalization and stronger multilateral trade rules over the coming months. We will step up our activities and be in Hong Kong to support the negotiating process and the strengthening of the multilateral trading system and convince our politicians to move the negotiations forward quickly.