24th Aug 2019


World trade deal expected to boost EU nations

  • The cost of doing trade is expected to drop by 10-15 percent (Photo: dawvon)

Hailed as "historic" by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the surprise world trade deal agreed over the weekend in Bali aims to lower the cost of exports by simplifying customs procedures and reducing import duties.

It also seeks to give developing countries greater market access to western economies and allows them some breathing space on food subsidies.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The deal brought tears to the eyes of the World Trade Organisation's new head, Roberto Azevedo, who managed to broker an agreement among 159 countries, despite a last-minute blockade by India and Cuba.

“For the first time in its history, the WTO has delivered. We are back in business,” Azevedo said in a press conference on Saturday (7 December).

EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht said: "Today we have saved the WTO.”

Created in 1995, the World Trade Organisation has so far failed to deliver a global free trade deal. The Bali agreement is a first step in that direction.

For EU countries with a strong export base, like Germany, it is set to bring bigger revenues. The head of the German Trade and Commerce Chamber, Volker Treier, expects a boost to the German economy of €60 billion a year.

Britain also says its exports will grow and more jobs will be created as a result of the deal.

“If just 100,000 small businesses either start exporting or spread to new markets over the next five years, this would generate an extra £30 billion for the UK economy and create 100,000 new jobs," Cameron said.

But development NGOs have criticised the deal - projected to boost global trade by by €730 billion - as skewed in favour of big corporations and rich nations.

“Its gains have been grossly over-estimated, while the costs of implementation for poorer countries were completely ignored,” Oxfam, a British aid and development group, said in a statement.

The World Development Movement (WDM) also warned it was "an agreement for transnational corporations, not the world's poor."

India however managed to obtain a concession allowing it to continue subsidising food for the poor. WDM chief Nick Dearden said this was a "positive" development, but maintained that overall the deal serves the "pro-corporate agenda for the US and EU."

Another campaign group - War on Want - also decried the "hypocrisy" of the WTO deal.

"The USA and EU continue to channel billions in subsidies to their richest farmers, yet seek to destroy other countries’ right to protect their poorest citizens from starvation," the group said on its website.

In the Bali declaration, the 159 countries express their "regret" that the WTO has failed to meet its 2005 pledge to reduce export subsidies for EU countries.


Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

A European financial regulatory body set up after the financial crisis is at loggerheads with the European Commission over whether to carry out a transparency review of certain financial products. The reason: Brexit.

Commission defends Mercosur trade deal

EU commissioners defended a far-reaching free trade agreement between the EU and four Latin American countries, against critics who fear it will damage European farmers' livelihoods and the global environment.

EU hesitates to back France over US tariff threat

France has passed a new tax on tech companies that will affect US global giants like Facebook. Donald Trump has threatened retaliatory tariffs over it. The EU commission says it will "coordinate closely with French" on the next steps.

EU banks more vulnerable to shocks than feared

Eurozone banks, such as Deutsche Bank, might be much more vulnerable to a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis than EU "stress-tests" have said, according to a new audit.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations


Why von der Leyen must put rights at core of business

Ursula von der Leyen's in-tray must include those European executives on trial for systematic workplace harassment, the break-up of European slavery rings, and allegations of European companies' abuse in palm oil, including child labour, land grabs, and deforestation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us