Luxembourg's Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, and the Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Romain Schneider, were in Nairobi, Kenya, from 16 to 19 December to chair the European Union's Foreign Affairs (Trade) Council and to attend the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Jean Asselborn first of all participated in the conclusion between 53 World Trade Organization (WTO) members of an agreement to revise the 1997 WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) to extend the list of products covered to include an additional 200 new products, the annual commercial value of which is estimated at USD 1.3 billion, representing 10 % of global trade. The goods covered by this extension include, inter alia, next-generation semi-conductors, GPS navigation systems, and medical products, which include magnetic resonance imaging machines and diagnostic ultrasonic scanning systems.
As this agreement is the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO since 1996, Jean Asselborn warmly welcomed the revision which was set out as being on of the prioirities of the Presidency in the field of trade policy.
During the 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, which brought together 162 members, Jean Asselborn also chaired the Foreign Affairs (Trade) Council which addressed the preparation and coordination of a joint European position in respect of the Ministerial Conference of the WTO. Ministers focused, in particular, on the strategy to be adopted, whilst also addressing questions linked to development and export competition.
The Ministerial Conference which constitutes the highest decision-making body of the organisation addressed issues relating to international trade, including agriculture and the better integration of developing countries, in particular the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), into the multilateral trading system. Ministers also reached an agreement on export subsidies in the agricultural sector: developed countries should give up these subsidies immediately and developing countries from 2018.
Lastly, that conference also addressed the accession of two countries - Afghanistan and Liberia - to the WTO.
Press release from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs