For a Strong and Modern World Trading System

Port of Hamburg © Fotolia/Johannsen

How and about what topics shall be negotiated in the WTO in future? This question keeps politicians and experts in Geneva and Brussels busy. BDI presents its answers.

The integration into the world economy belongs to the most important economic success strategies of Germany. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) remains to be the backbone of the global trading system. Since the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi end of 2015 there has been an intense discussion about the question on how to address remaining topics of the Doha Round, such as market access and trading rules, but also neglected topics, such as competition, investments, digital trade.

Therefore, BDI has delivered a comprehensive analysis and position paper on the way towards a strong and modern world trading system. Our key messages in brief:

Create new market access worldwide, stop protectionism

With regard to the next WTO Ministerial Conference at the end of 2017, the organization’s members must now negotiate the remaining issues of the Doha Agenda (Doha Development Agenda, DDA) with market access for goods being a top priority. They also need to embrace a new negotiation mode as the single undertaking principle has clearly failed. The WTO and the G20 should also step up their efforts to curb creeping protectionism, by strengthening monitoring mechanisms for example.

Develop and adapt the multilateral trading system

The WTO’s spectrum of topics, rules, and organization must be adapted to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. Areas like investment, export restrictions, digital trade, public procurement, and competition must not be neglected any longer. The use of plurilateral and sectoral agreements to liberalize trade should be increased. The 162 WTO members must be more clearly differentiated according to their level of development. More advanced emerging and developing countries need to more fully embrace the obligations under the WTO.

Expand multilateral rules for preferential agreements

The WTO members should create more precise rules and clearer definitions for preferential trade agreements in order to improve their coherence with the multilateral trading system. Greater transparency and closer monitoring of conformity with WTO rules will facilitate later multilateralization. Stricter regulations on preferential rules of origin in the WTO represent another important step.