Bri­tain’s WTO terms will de­pend on na­ture of EU di­vorce: Azevedo

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

OSLO: The terms of Bri­tain’s fu­ture mem­ber­ship of the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion will de­pend a lot on how it sep­a­rates from the Euro­pean Union, the di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the WTO said yes­ter­day.

In the case of a “hard Brexit”, in­clud­ing leav­ing the EU’s cus­toms union, some ar­gue Bri­tain can fall back onto WTO terms to gov­ern its global trad­ing re­la­tion­ships. Bri­tain is a mem­ber of the WTO but once it leaves the EU, the bloc’s sched­ules of com­mit­ments-a list of its tar­iffs, quo­tas and sub­sidy en­ti­tle­ments-will no longer ap­ply to Bri­tain.

“Once they (the Bri­tish) leave, legally the EU sched­ules no longer ap­plies to them ... The other WTO mem­bers ar­guably could say: ‘I don’t like it. We should change this, or we should change that’,” Roberto Azevedo told a busi­ness sem­i­nar in Oslo. “A lot will de­pend on the terms of sep­a­ra­tion in the ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the UK and the EU. That may have a pos­i­tive im­pact on how the other WTO mem­bers view this or not. “I don’t think the global econ­omy at this point in time can af­ford the lux­ury of more tur­bu­lence. The less tur­bu­lence we have the bet­ter. The quicker trade re­la­tions are es­tab­lished be­tween the UK, the EU and other WTO mem­bers, the bet­ter.”

US ELEC­TION

US pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton has crit­i­cized the TPP and TTIP trade deals con­cluded be­tween the United States and the Pa­cific na­tions and the EU re­spec­tively, while her ri­val Don­ald Trump has spo­ken out against ac­cords such as Nafta, en­abling free trade be­tween the United States, Canada and Mex­ico. Azevedo said the anti-global trade rhetoric heard on the cam­paign trail may make it more dif­fi­cult for the next US pres­i­dent to come back on those com­ments, if re­quired.

“My con­cern is that if you step up your rhetoric it be­comes harder and harder to back­track,” he said. He later told Reuters: “You need to bring ra­tio­nal­ity back in the con­ver­sa­tion about trade. It can­not be an emo­tional con­ver­sa­tion.” “It is very dif­fi­cult be­cause peo­ple are af­fected in their ev­ery­day lives by these shifts. But these shifts are not caused by trade,” he said, cit­ing that eight out of the 10 jobs lost are due to in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity, new tech­nolo­gies, au­toma­tion, rather than jobs be­ing de­lo­calised to coun­tries with cheaper la­bor costs.

— AFP

ROME: Mem­bers of the Ital­ian trade union USB (Unione Sin­da­cale di Base) hold a ban­ner read­ing “wages, rights, so­cial sta­tus, we want ev­ery­thing” in front of the Min­istry of Econ­omy dur­ing a na­tion­wide gen­eral strike of pub­lic work­ers in cen­tral Rome yes­ter­day.

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