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WTO Publishes Trade Policy Review Of Europe

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

28 February 2007

In the WTO Secretariat report on the trade policies and practices of the European Communities of the European Union, published this week, the World Trade Organisation suggested that the region's economic situation has improved following the economic slowdown in 2001-03, mainly driven by private investment and exports.

It went on to suggest that the economic recovery has translated into a decline of unemployment, and was accompanied by strong expansion of international trade, and observed that:

"Nonetheless, sustained recovery would appear to hinge on continued structural reforms, including further liberalization of services both at the intra-EC level and vis-à-vis third countries."

The report by the WTO Secretariat also noted that the EU is the world’s leading exporter and the second-largest importer of goods, and its economy has continued to support global growth by keeping its markets open, although trade barriers remain in a few but important areas, notably agriculture.

Indeed, the report stated that despite an increase in the exposure of farmers to world markets due to the implementation of the 2003 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), further reduction of export subsidies and tariffs on agriculture are needed.

The report, along with a policy statement by the European Communities, forms the basis for the eighth Trade Policy Review (TPR) of the European Communities by the Trade Policy Review Body of the WTO.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson announced on Tuesday that:

"I welcome the recognition of the EU's role in pushing the Doha Round forward, as well as our work in favour of developing countries. The EU is one of the most open economies in the world and is committed to free and fair trade in an open global economy."

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