World Trade Organisation
spiritsEUROPE has been a strong and consistent proponent of trade liberalisation for many years and has aspirations for global free trade in spirit drinks in the longer term. The sector has been a steadfast supporter of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since its formation in 1995.
spiritsEUROPE is a founding member of the World Spirits Alliance (WSA), a forum of the global spirits industry. Within this framework, the European sector participates in a dialogue with officials from key national delegations and the WTO Secretariat in Geneva, aimed at furthering trade liberalisation in world markets.
Reform of WTO
spiritsEUROPE is willing to take an active role in the ongoing debate over the reform/modernisation of the WTO. In October 2018, we have shared our detailed proposals with the European Commission and civil servant in Geneva.
The WTO is far more than the Doha Round.... Our sector benefits from the day-to-day work of the WTO and its enforcement of the existing international trade rules. There is a wide range of instruments and standing mechanisms within the WTO agreements, which the EU already uses extensively and to good effect:
- The TBT and SPS Agreements allow for constructive discussions.
spiritsEUROPE regularly provides input on the regulatory proposals notified by WTO members. This allows us to consider proposed regulations that may have an impact on trade at an early stage when amendments can still be introduced and comments taken into account.
- The Trade Policy Review affords another opportunity for constructive discussions with third countries, going beyond mere tariff issues. (link to WTO TPRs)
The enforceability of WTO commitments through the dispute settlement mechanism was perhaps the most valuable innovation of the Uruguay Round. The WTO Dispute Settlement is an important tool in the EU’s fight against unfair trade practices around the world. Our sector can testify to its effectiveness in very recent years, given successes against Uruguay (tax discrimination), India (discriminatory taxation), Thailand (customs valuation), the Philippines (tax discrimination) and Colombia (discriminatory tax and monopoly systems).
However, the Appellate Body collapsed in December 2019 (because of US decision not to nominate judges). Since then, the EU is actively looking for solutions to protect the rules-based system of dispute settlement in the WTO.
Working with like-minded WTO members, the EU has developed the Multi Party Interim Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA) as a stop-gap to maintain an independent, two-step dispute settlement function.
There are 15 co-signatories alongside the EU, including some of the biggest users of the system, such as Brazil and China. Invitations have also extended to the entire WTO membership to join, underlining the inclusive nature of the arrangement.
There will be 10 arbitrators on the MPIA roster. The EU has the option of nominating a candidate. The nominee will need to be submitted by the end of May 2020.