12 July 2018 The participants of the PAM/WTO High Level Parliamentary Conference on Trade Facilitation and Investments in Western Balkans
Thursday, 12 July 2018
National Assembly Hosts PAM/WTO High Level Parliamentary Conference on Trade Facilitation and Investments in Western Balkans
The National Assembly is the host of the joint high-level parliamentary conference on Investments and Trade Facilitation in the Western Balkans, co-organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 12 and 13 July.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Djordje Milicevic said that parliamentary meetings are very important as they allow for direct contact between the elected representatives of the citizens. He added that the National Assembly cooperates closely with its neighbours, European countries and the countries of the Mediterranean region, as well as global partners to find suitable solutions for all regional and global issues, as evidenced by the National Assembly delegation’s activity within the PAM.
“I would especially like to thank the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, unique Euro-Mediterranean parliamentary forum, for its strong and unequivocal support of Serbia’s Euro-integration efforts since EU accession is Serbia’s top foreign policy priority. Besides, the European Union is Serbia’s most important trade and investment partner and with it one of the most significant factors of the country’s economic stability”, said Milicevic.
He also thanked the World Trade Organization for recognizing the Western Balkans as a region that needs further integration in order to boost trade, sustainable development and economic growth at large.
“The Republic of Serbia is very interested in fostering connectivity and advancing cooperation among the countries of the Western Balkans because that is essential for attracting investments and for the economic growth of the region, and the economic development of Serbia and the region not possible without stability and good-neighbourly relations”, concluded the National Assembly Deputy Speaker.
Milicevic stressed that this is especially important for Serbia because economic cooperation, especially in the region, is one of the country’s top foreign policy priorities.
Olivera Jocic, acting minister of trade, tourism and telecommunications, said that the international trading system is going through some big challenges these days, but Serbia firmly believes in the system grounded in the WTO, a process that has taken decades. She said that we do not know what the alternative to a regulated global trading system might be, in view of the fact that the WTO covers a staggering 98% of world trade. Jocic said that Serbia is in the process of joining the WTO and has in its negotiations with the EU opened Chapter 30 – External relations, a significant part of which concerns WTO membership.
“We believe that integration is good at the political as well as economic level. Serbia is ready to fully integrate in the global economic system because WTO membership has a positive effect on export, direct foreign investments and economic growth”, said Jocic.
PAM President Pedro Roque praised the continuous cooperation between the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean and the World Trade Organization and the fact that the SEE region has come into its focus. He opined that a trade war is raging between the largest global economies, which affects the region already facing challenges of its own. Roque added that it is the job of the parliamentarians as legislators to make economic growth and development of the region part of the solution to the problem. He suggested that MPs can propose laws at the national and regional level conducive to fostering economic integration and regional trade.
WTO representative Said El Hachimi said that the trade war between the global economic powers affects everyone and comes at the worst possible time for the world economy. The multilateral trading system needs the support from all the WTO member states, otherwise, unless the tensions are stopped, everybody will be facing huge challenges, Hachimi opined.
“Your support is vital because you are the link between the governments, international organizations and the citizens to whom we have to lay out the facts and the reality of the situation. It is our task to work strategically”, said the WTO representative to the parliamentarians.
The participants of the conference were also addressed by the deputy heads of the national parliaments of Serbia, Algeria, Montenegro and Tunisia, and the ambassadors of Morocco, Croatia, Egypt and the EU.
The conference is attended by over 100 representatives of national and regional parliamentary delegations from PAM members, associate countries and organizations, the European Parliament and senior officials from the Government of Serbia.
In the course of the two-day conference the participants will tackle specific issues relevant to South East Europe, a geopolitical area which has a high relevance for the whole Euro-Mediterranean region due to its strategic position, and the Western Balkans as a region that needs further integration in order to boost trade, sustainable development and economic growth at large.
The conference will feature speakers from the major international organizations with a specific mandate on the topic of the event, such as the World Trade Organization, European Commission, UNCTAD, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, OECD, World Bank, European Investment Bank and the International Monetary Fund who will discuss the Euro-Mediterranean processes of economic and political cooperation concerning WTO and EU regulations, how WTO works and how to join it, results of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference and state-of-play of international trade, regional integration in the Western Balkans and possibilities for the additional engagement of MPs on WTO-related issues.
Click here to watch the opening of the conference.