Press release 217/2017
8 December 2017
Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen will participate in the WTO Ministerial Conference that will take place on 10–13 December 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Ministerial Conference will aim to achieve common understanding on the unresolved issues of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), launched in 2001, and to clarify the next steps for the work to be done in Geneva.
The negotiations in Buenos Aires will aim to reach an outcome concerning fisheries subsidies, transparency of export restrictions on food products and a permanent solution on the storing of food products for the needs of food security (PSH). As regards the domestic subsidies on agriculture, a work programme to commence after the meeting will be aimed at instead. The negotiations will also involve domestic regulation of services, special and differential treatment of developing countries, e-commerce and investment facilitation.
From the Finnish perspective, the most noteworthy subjects for further action are e-commerce, improving the transparency of regulation and investment facilitation. Other subjects of interest to Finland include improvement of market access in various industries, but these are not on the agenda in Buenos Aires.
The persistent economic recession has fed protectionism and increased resistance to globalisation in general. The WTO has also received its share of the criticism. There are low expectations for the conference.
“Finland is one of those countries which supports a multilateral, rule-based trading system. It is simply the best alternative for a small economy like Finland, which is dependent on exports and highly integrated into the international market,” says Minister Mykkänen.
Over the last few days, the Ministerial Conference has gained negative publicity, as the Argentine authorities have banned representatives of various non-governmental organisations from entering the country, citing security reasons.
“Finland supports openness and continuous dialogue with civil society. We have worked closely with the Argentine authorities and I have discussed the matter with the Argentine Foreign Minister. We achieved good results through our advocacy work: meeting accreditation has now been awarded to Finnish NGOs. This is positive as no barriers are needed between the authorities and non-governmental organisations,” says Minister Mykkänen.
Additionally, in connection with the conference, Minister Mykkänen will participate in the unofficial dialogue on how to promote a reform of fossil fuel subsidies in the WTO. From the perspective of preventing climate change, the fossil fuel subsidies are directly in opposition to the goals of the Paris Agreement. A reform of fossil fuel subsidies supports smarter use of public funding and social justice in developing countries.
In addition to participating in the Ministerial Conference, Minister Mykkänen will attend several bilateral meetings with other WTO member states.
Inquiries: Ilkka-Pekka Similä, Director General of the Department for External Economic Relations, tel. +358 295 350 257, Tuuli-Maaria Aalto, Diplomatic Adviser to the Minister, Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development, tel. 040 352 0463.
The Foreign Ministry’s e-mail addresses are in the format firstname.lastname@example.org