Future of the WTO talks remain uncertain
FoodDrinkEurope delegation attends WTO Public Forum 2014.
When attending the WTO Public Forum 2014, an annual conference bringing together stakeholders, civil servants and academics, FoodDrinkEurope was able to engage with key contacts in Geneva and discuss the main priorities of Europe’s food and drink industry, in particular in the post-Bali context.
A FoodDrinkEurope delegation met with important stakeholders, including the WTO Director of Agriculture and Commodities Division, the President of WTO’s Agricultural Committee & Ambassador of New Zealand to the WTO, and the Agricultural Attaché of the US Mission to the WTO. This visit was an excellent opportunity for FoodDrinkEurope to consolidate good working relations with the EU negotiators, the WTO Secretariat, and staff of different Missions and Permanent Representations to the WTO. In addition, FoodDrinkEurope’s presence at the Forum shows that, despite the current deadlock in the multilateral talks, there is still a sustained interest among industry for the conclusion of the round.
Regarding the outcome of the actual WTO talks, it was clear that as long as clear divergences persist between key members of the WTO, the finalisation of a post-Bali work programme by the end of 2014 remains uncertain. A compromise is needed on the part of all key players and WTO members need to reconsider the future way of negotiating and come up with a balanced package that all ‘capitals’ can agree to.
Members of the FoodDrinkEurope delegation also attended a session organised by the European Committee for the Agricultural and Agri-Food Trade (CELCAA). Discussions focused on the role of agri-food trade in connection with consumers’ needs and expectations.