PAM and WTO to launch the Parliamentary Forum for Trade Facilitation and Investments in the Euro-Mediterranean Region

Over 140 representatives from 19 national Parliaments, 6 Inter-parliamentary Assemblies, the European Parliament, 13 Internationals Organizations, and the Diplomatic Corps, met on 12-13 July 2018 in Belgrade, to take part in the international high level conference jointly organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). 
The event, hosted by the National Assembly of Serbia, is part of the long standing process launched by PAM in 2010 aimed at providing its member parliaments with state of the art information and tools to foster trade and economic integration in the Euro-Mediterranean region. 
Parliamentarians were updated, on the latest developments related to the global and regional economic challenges and perspectives, by senior officials of the WTO, the European Commission, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nation Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the European Investment Bank and OECD. 
The parliamentary debate, which took place throughout the conference, addressed the concerns by PAM Member States in relation to the current trade war, the rise of protectionism, and challenges being faced by multilateral trade. Delegates considered these matters as serious obstacles and a dangerous threat to regional economic and political integration.
A special session was dedicated to the status of the negotiations for accession to WTO by a number of PAM countries. 
Each session of the conference included an open debate to exchange views, best practices and bottlenecks experienced at a national, regional and international level. 
At the conclusion of the two day conference, the following elements and actions were highlighted:
1.Trade and investments in the Euro-Mediterranean region and the Western Balkans can and must be further facilitated, and stimulated, especially with regards to international, inter-regional and intra-regional commerce. Dangerous international trade wars and national protectionism have to be further prevented or overcome;
2.Political stability, social progress, economic growth, peace, respect for human rights and adequate governance/management of the inter-regional and inter-continental migrations, are absolute priorities;
3.The inter-regional and intra-regional collaboration and cooperation between institutions, communities, economic and social operators and their associations; the dismantlement of barriers and the systems/markets integrations are crucial for regional economies and societies in terms of job creation, GDP growth, sustainable development and better quality of life;
4.The exchange of know-how, best practices, lessons learned, together with research, innovation and education systems, are effective means to facilitate trade and investments, as well as to promote regional economic and social integration;
5.The WTO Agreement is a useful, fundamental instrument to facilitate trade and to promote market efficiency, fair competition and investments. Member Parliaments of countries that have not yet ratified the WTO Agreement are warmly encouraged to speed up the ratification process, in light of the benefits that the adoption of the agreement will bring. Multilateral trading system, market opening, their efficient regulation and integration are essential for the benefit of all the people. 
6.Stability, reliability, transparency, clarity and regional/intra-regional harmonization of legislative, regulatory and legal frameworks are essential to facilitate trade and investments including regional and intra-regional infrastructural investment in energy, water, transport and telecommunication systems, to protect and develop the natural resources, the environment  and to reinforce the consumers’ care.
7.PAM will continue working with its member Parliaments, with other international Parliaments, other parliamentary or institutional Assemblies or Unions, the UN economic cluster, international financial institutions, OECD and WTO to promote and support the above mentioned proposals, initiatives and principles, keeping in mind its mandate and goal for the establishment of a unified, coherent and harmonized Euro-Mediterranean economic area. 
As result of the conference, and considering the need for a unified, comprehensive and strategic approach to the issues to be addressed, there was a consensus on the proposal to establish the « Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Forum for Trade and Investment Facilitation » : a PAM and WTO partnership, open to the participation of all relevant legislative and non-parliamentarian Institutions, their agencies, the UN system, OECD, the European Commission, International Financial Institutions, the private and academic sectors, and all relevant stakeholders, to contribute in facilitating trade and investments in the region.  Both national parliaments and international organization involved in the Forum already put forward a calendar of events to kick-start the program.//
issued on 16.07.2018
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Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean