Deputy Minister Manlio Di Stefano participated today in the EU Foreign Affairs and Trade Council meeting in Brussels. The critical meeting takes place the day after the conclusion of the G20 Trade Council in Sorrento and a few weeks before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial in Geneva at the end of November (MC12).
The meeting addressed the leading international trade issues at a time characterised by a common desire to revive the world economy after the pandemic crisis. The Undersecretary reiterated the urgent need to reform the WTO (starting with the dispute settlement system), consolidate trade relations with the US, and place increasing emphasis on the concept of sustainability in all trade agreements negotiated by the EU.
On the EU’s ‘Trade and Health’ initiative, which aims to facilitate exports and the smooth the functioning of global value chains for health-related goods (from masks to electro-medical machinery to medicines), Deputy Minister Di Stefano supported the Commission’s work, pointing out that “while it is essential to protect intellectual property to avoid discouraging innovation and investment in Europe, we must also allow the Covid vaccination to a large part of the world’s population that has not yet been able to benefit from it. Therefore, we believe that derogations for compulsory licences are possible.
In the same vein, Di Stefano expressed support for the Commission to include references to trade and environmental sustainability in the ministerial declaration and to agree on joint statements on plastics and fossil fuel subsidies. “This is an important commitment that reflects the achievement at the G20 in Sorrento and one we are very proud of,” – added the Deputy Minister.
“We all know that the European Union is not only the largest common market in the world but also jointly the largest exporter and importer of goods and services. That is why it must be a global player in the relationship with the US, as it has done recently with excellent results such as the suspension of duties on steel and aluminium and the global minimum tax on digital trade. We are now at a delicate moment in the multilateral negotiations on international trade, which must deal with the requirements imposed by the shortening of value chains and the new problems linked to international logistics bottlenecks. These are already very complex issues, but we cannot fail to add a common hat, making trade and the economy greener and more sustainable. Being able to discuss these issues today with European leaders and make our voice heard with those responsible for EU trade policy is of fundamental importance to safeguard the interests of Italy and our businesses and to put the Italian economy in a position to express its exporting vocation in the best possible way, but also the security of its strategic imports,” concluded the Deputy Minister.