Today, Tuesday the 26th of November, we the SME Europe of the EPP the Working Breakfast on the topic “WTO meeting in Bali” and its consequences for SMEs. Several high level speakers shared their opinions, insights and up to date information.
Dr. Paul Rübig MEP, Member of EP Committee on Industry Research and Energy and Honorary President of SME Europe, emphasized that trade is playing a significant role to overcome the crisis and the importance of the inclusion of members of the parliament in the WTO process as it destroys the information monopoly the governments usually have since the parliamentarians are often from the opposition. More distribution of power leads to better results. He hopes to bring back a “Christmas present” in the form of millions of new jobs from the trade negotiations in Bali.
Ralf Kamphöner, Director of International Trade at Eurocommerce talked about the importance of a strong WTO for SMEs since they profit immensely from trade facilitation that is the main delivery from the meeting in Bali. SMEs are expected to have 15% lower trade costs since especially small enterprises profit from easier rules and lowered bureaucracy. Mr. Kamphöner said that simplification and harmonisation are very important and through the trade facilitation all countries, more and less developed, are going to receive a strong economic boost.
MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain, Vice Chair of the EP Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, believes that the WTO meeting in Bali can improve the unemployment situation especially in the Mediterranean region. In Spain 90% of employment is given by SMEs and, like the previous speakers, he is convinced that they will mostly benefit from an agreement.
Fabian Delcros, chair of Trade and External Affairs Committee AmCham EU, detailed a few practical examples on how the Bali WTO round could influence businesses. E.g. that exporters could ask any government participating about procedure, tariffs, classification before actually shipping the goods and the answering government is legally bound to the response they provide to the exporter.
Mr. Delcros also pointed out that Bali is not the end, but just a further step in a long process with many questions and issues needing to be solved in the future.
Signe Ratso, Director of Trade Strategy and Analysis, Market Access in DG Trade in the European Commission, highlighted the worldwide benefits of a successful agreement: 21 million jobs and one trillion Euros added to the economy. According to Mrs. Ratso the WTO can’t afford a failure since it would severely hurt the credibility of the institution as it exists today. She also stressed the importance of organisations like SME Europe and Eurocommerce for the European Commission to increase pressure at negotiations.