SCED calls on WTO Members to reach consensus at 11th WTO Ministerial Conference
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has remained the best option to keep trade war at bay for the past 22 years, and all members should play a constructive role in the final discussions to make the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference a success for everyone, said the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Edward Yau, at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, today (December 11, Buenos Aires time).
Speaking at the plenary session of the conference, Mr Yau said, "Despite the strong headwind, WTO Members should not give up on negotiations which can bring about improved disciplines and better market access for the benefit of all. We must also ensure that the WTO remains relevant to the evolving global trading environment."
It would be no small achievement if Members could reach a consensus on the future work over a number of topics such as e-commerce, investment facilitation and micro, small and medium enterprises, said Mr Yau, adding that Hong Kong looks forward to seeing the negotiations on domestic regulations in services trade intensified and the mandate under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) fulfilled.
Alongside the plenary session, Mr Yau attended meetings on domestic regulation for services trade and e-commerce.
Speaking at the meeting on domestic regulation for services trade, Mr Yau pointed out that domestic regulation is also a top priority for Hong Kong and Hong Kong considers it important to develop multilateral disciplines for domestic regulation to ensure that the real commercial value of its trading partners' specific commitments would not be undermined by opaque and/or unnecessarily trade-restrictive domestic regulation.
He added, "A set of domestic regulation disciplines is also a key safeguard against protectionist measures. Hong Kong will certainly work with others to further narrow the gaps among Members and pave the way for real negotiations as mandated under the GATS."
During the meeting on e-commerce, Mr Yau urged Members to develop disciplines to promote e-commerce in the multilateral trading system. Through establishing multilateral trade rules, the WTO can create a more transparent and facilitating e-commerce environment to promote global trade.
"As always, Hong Kong stands ready to work constructively with Members to advance discussions on e-commerce under the WTO," he said.
Mr Yau will convene meetings of the plenary sessions tomorrow (December 12, Buenos Aires time) as the Vice Chair of the Ministerial Conference.
Ends/Tuesday, December 12, 2017