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Government Meets With Social Partners to Prepare for the WTO 11th Ministerial Conference

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, attended the National Consultative Forum in Midrand to prepare for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2017.  
The Forum provided an opportunity for the exchange of views between Government, Labour and Business on the possible outcomes in preparation for the upcoming MC11.  The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making body in the WTO and will be attended by 164 countries which are members of the WTO.

Minister Davies said that MC11 will be held at a time of increasing backlash against multilateralism and trade liberalisation due to the lack of inclusive growth.

“There is a need to define a new form of ‘inclusive multilateralism’. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its 2017 Trade and Development Report calls for a ‘global new deal’ to enhance growth and development,” said Davies.

Minister Davies said that South Africa’s priorities are aligned to those of the African Group and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group. The key priority is therefore to conclude the outstanding work of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) including in agriculture, to address the trade distorting domestic support subsidies being provided by mainly developed countries.

Minister Davies noted that there were many proposals on the different issues discussed at the WTO but there seems to be very little convergence.

“On the SA side, we are assessing each of the proposed issues, to determine whether they can indeed be delivered, whether they meet SA’s most urgent developmental needs, and whether they involve demands that unacceptably limit our policy space.”   

The National Consultative Forum also provided an opportunity for Government and Labour to sign a Pledge not to concede to become a party to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.  Business undertook to sign the Pledge once the necessary approval has been obtained.

The Pledge is an outcome of the annual NEDLAC Trade and Industry Chamber’s Strategic Session with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, held on 22 September 2017 at NEDLAC House. In the strategic session, a resolution was taken by NEDLAC Constituencies, which include organised labour (COSATU), organised business (BUSA) and Government (the Department of Trade and Industry) not to concede and sign-off on “The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement”.

The Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) is a plurilateral agreement within the framework of the WTO, meaning that not all WTO members are party to the Agreement. Currently 47 of the 164 WTO members have signed the GPA. The fundamental aim of the GPA is to mutually open government procurement markets among its signatories. The NEDLAC social partners are concerned that joining the GPA could be to erode policy space available to implement South Africa’s development and employment objectives by constraining local content requirements in government tenders that can be used as a policy tool to facilitate sustainable industrial development. Local content requirements in government procurement are utilised as strategic levers to enhance domestic production capabilities.

Minister Davies and labour representative Tony Ehrenreich at the National Consultative Forum in Midrand

Sidwell Medupe -Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade and Industry
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