1999 Manila - WTO Millennium Round
Note: This policy statement Issued on the 22nd of October 1999 during the 59th CACCI General Council Meeting in Manila, Philippines.
1. CACCI members strongly support the launching of a new Round of multilateral negotiations within the WTO at the coming ministerial meeting to be held in Seattle. CACCI considers the continued growth in international trade and investment as the best means of achieving prosperity in Asia and the world. For that purpose, the success of the coming WTO negotiations is essential.
The Millennium Round Agenda
2. CACCI sees the program of work for the Millennium Round revolving around implementation of commitments from the Uruguay Round, progressing in the so-called ‘built-in agenda’, and moving forward with the more trade-constructive aspects of the ‘new trade agenda’. The scope of the Round must be broad enough to take into account the interests of all countries, both developed and developing, but yet manageable to allow it to be completed within a reasonable period of time, say three years.
3. An essential platform for further trade liberalisation must be effective and faithful implementation in full and on-schedule of commitments made during the Uruguay Round. It is essential for the developed countries to comply with commitments undertaken towards the developing countries, in accordance with the WTO agreements.
The ‘Built-in’ Agenda
4. While the Uruguay Round of trade liberalisation negotiations made substantial progress across a broad range of issues, a large body of work – known as the ‘built- in agenda’- remains to be completed. Further negotiations should take into account the difficulties faced by many countries as a result of the recent financial crisis with the view to giving them ample room for recovery which may take two or three years.
5. Nevertheless, CACCI recognizes that there is a need :
a. To begin moving towards a market-driven agricultural trading system through delivery of further reductions and greater transparency in agricultural protection and support mechanisms;
b. To ensure that reductions in industrial tariffs are delivered as scheduled, both in quantum and in time, with meaningful negotiations to reduce both tariff peaks and rates of escalation, and elimination of ‘nuisance’ tariffs, such as reduction in tariffs on items of interest to developing countries (e.g., textiles) and greater restrictions on the flagrant misuse of anti-dumping measures;
c. To expand and improve the quality of commitments to market access and national treatment under the General Agreement on the Trade in Services (GATS) and for this purpose provide for free movement of skilled personnel. Priorities include basic telecommunications, information technology, professional services and transport services (both aviation and maritime, where much more substantial commitments are required, particularly if the region is to address problems pertaining to the cross-border flow of people to boost tourism); and,
d. To produce a comprehensive multilateral agreement on government procurement which ensures transparency, openness, due process and national treatment, as well as broader governmental (i.e. sub-national, and governmental agencies) and sectoral coverage, and wider membership.
The New Trade Agenda
6. The WTO has already identified a series of “new trade issues” – including environment, labour, investment, competition policy, and electronic commerce – which it believes should be considered within the wider context of the multilateral, rules-based trading system. CACCI maintains, however, that there is a need to be careful in addressing some of these new issues to ensure that they will not be used to strangle the growth of trade. CACCI submits that these new issues should be discussed with caution, taking into account their effects on trade.
7. In this regard, CACCI holds the view that:
a. Any linkages between trade and the environment must not compromise the integrity of the multilateral, rules-based trading system, or create the potential for protectionist or trade-disruptive measures;
b. Continued demands by some developed countries for WTO engagement in trade and labour issues could threaten ongoing commitment by developing and transitional economies to the rules-based, multilateral trading system;
c. There is a demonstrable need for a comprehensive and robust framework of global rules on cross-border investment and that the existing WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) represents a starting point for negotiations of a discrete and substantive discipline on investment;
d. The preparatory work being undertaken by the WTO Working Group on the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy should be encouraged to continue before any robust multilateral negotiations on substantive issues can be undertaken;
e. The conduct of electronic commerce and the expansion of this important platform for trade and commerce should be embodied by a comprehensive and robust stand-alone Agreement on Electronic Commerce.
8. CACCI strongly supports expanding the membership of, as well as deepening the commitment of existing members to, the rules-based, multilateral trading system, evidenced in the WTO.
9. Phasing of commitments should be allowed in, and take into account, special circumstances genuinely related to the applicant’s level of economic development.