The battle against corruption and inefficiency in global trade went one step further today when a breakthrough World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement gained the support of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Agreement is the first multilateral agreement reached under the WTO since its creation in 1995.
Senior Scottish MEP David Martin, a member of the Parliament’s International Trade Committee and Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on the WTO welcomed the parliament’s support for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), negotiated by developed and developing countries in the WTO. The aim of the agreement is to modernise customs procedures and make it easier for exporters to comply with border measures.
"This Agreement has breathed new life into the WTO” enthused Mr Martin “and reaffirmed our belief that the multilateral arena remains the best forum for global trade rules.
"Developing countries are often losing substantial money and opportunities with burdensome border procedures and corruption. This Agreement can support a thorough modernisation of customs procedures to stimulate and promote international trade.”
"This agreement matters not just in terms of its content, but also in terms of the process that led to it. As Labour MEPs we are committed to multilateralism and supporting international institutions including the WTO. Involving all countries - and not just the most advanced economies - is absolutely crucial to reach the balanced and fair trade rules we need in order to tackle the social, environmental and economic challenges that we face."
The Trade Facilitation Agreement will simplify document requirements, promote electronic payments and increase the publication of accessible information on customs laws, in order to make global trade more transparent. It assumes a great importance because of its innovative approach towards developing and least developed countries.
With European Parliament approval, the Commission must now ratify the Agreement on behalf of the EU at the next WTO Ministerial Conference in December. Labour MEPs are also calling on the Commission to encourage other WTO Members to be ready to ratify as quickly as possible, and to provide the technical assistance necessary for developing countries to implement and benefit from this Agreement.