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2014年8月20日 (水)

(社説)WTOの意義 無差別いかす柔軟さを

August 19, 2014
EDITORIAL: WTO should be more flexible to establish new global trade rules
(社説)WTOの意義 無差別いかす柔軟さを

With cross-border interactions in the modern world of globalization increasing at a dizzying pace, international efforts to develop rules governing such activity often fail to keep up with reality.
 国境を越えて影響を及ぼし合うグローバル化の深化に、ルール作りが追いつかない。

One typical example of this challenge facing the world in the 21st century is the World Trade Organization’s struggle to reach an agreement on new global trade rules.
そんな21世紀の現実を映し出す典型的な例がある。世界貿易機関(WTO)だ。

During a WTO ministerial meeting held late last year, member nations agreed to adopt a package of “trade facilitation” measures, such as simplifying customs clearance. But opposition from India and some other countries blocked the adoption of these measures by the July 31 deadline.
 昨年末の閣僚会合で、通関業務の簡素化などの「貿易円滑化」について協定を結ぶことに合意していた。しかし、インドなど一部の国の反対で、期限としていた7月末までに協定を結べなかった。

This development has further blighted the already bleak prospects for the Doha Development Round (DDA) of multilateral trade talks under the WTO, which started in 2001.
 この結果、2001年に始まった多角的貿易交渉(ドーハ・ラウンド)の先行きが見えなくなった。

The DDA has managed to remain alive by muddling through many crises. Negotiators have prevented its collapse by narrowing the scope of areas for negotiations and taking other steps.
これまで何度も行き詰まっては、対象分野を絞るなどして何とか継続してきた。

But efforts to keep the round of talks going have apparently reached their limit.
それもいよいよ限界である。

Meanwhile, a growing number of countries have been seeking to reach free trade agreements with their trading partners. This trend is threatening to relegate the WTO to a secondary role in trade liberalization.
 その一方で、自由貿易協定(FTA)が広がっている。自由貿易の主役をWTOから奪うかの勢いだ。

The problem with FTAs is that these deals on abolishing or lowering tariffs are discriminatory, applied only to the countries involved. Other nations are denied the benefits of the agreements.
FTAの協定国同士は互いに低い関税率を享受できても、それ以外の国は対象外で差別的な取り扱いを受けてしまう。

The WTO, in contrast, adopts the principle of nondiscrimination to ensure that agreements for free trade are applied equally to all participating countries.
 WTOは「すべての国に対する無差別の自由化」をうたう。

Here lies the primary significance of the WTO, which has not lost its relevance despite the proliferation of FTAs.
そこに意義があるし、FTA花盛りの今もWTOの存在価値は失せてはいない。

The number of WTO member countries and regions has increased to 160 from 128 when it was formed in 1995. In addition, more than 20 countries are currently going through the process of attaining WTO membership.
実際、1995年の発足時、128だった加盟国・地域は現在、160に増えた。今も20カ国以上が加盟に向け手続き中だ。

The WTO has also proved itself to be an effective mechanism for settling trade disputes among countries.
 貿易をめぐる紛争解決の場としても、実績をあげている。

Earlier this month, the WTO upheld a ruling that China violated trade rules with restrictions on the export of rare earth minerals or metals, supporting the claim made by Japan, the United States and the European Union. It is far from easy for countries involved in such disputes to settle them on their own.
例えば、中国によるレアアースなどの輸出制限について今月、WTO協定違反だという日米欧の主張が認められた。こうした争いを当事者間の交渉で解決するのは容易ではない。

Even so, the credibility of the WTO will be undermined if it continues failing to work out new trade rules fit for the times.
 それでも、時代に即したルール作りに失敗し続ければ、WTOへの信頼も揺らいでしまう。

One of the major reasons for the WTO’s struggle to conclude negotiations is its unanimity principle, which requires decision-making by consensus among all members. This rule can be described as democratic, but it is usually a formidable challenge to build consensus among 160 countries with different interests.
 交渉がまとまらない理由の一つは、全会一致を意思決定の原則にしていることだ。民主的とは言えるが、利害が異なる160の国の意見はなかなか一致しない。

What is noteworthy is an approach that allows an agreement to come into force when participants representing a certain percentage of world trade accept it. Unlike an FTA, such an agreement is open to all countries.
 注目したいのは、一定の国の賛同で協定を結ぶ方式だ。こちらはFTAと異なり、すべての国に参加の扉を開いている。

The WTO adopted this approach for its agreement on reducing tariffs on information technology products, which was signed in 1996 by 29 countries and separate customs territories.
The WTO Information Technology Agreement required approval by a minimum of WTO members that represented 90 percent of global trade in the sector for the pact to take effect.
 WTOではIT製品の関税引き下げについて、この方式をとっている。具体的には、29の国・地域が96年に合意し、参加国・地域のIT製品貿易が世界の90%を超えた時点で発効することとした。

As the number of signatory countries increased, the agreement came into force in 1997. Now, 78 countries and territories are party to the agreement, representing 97 percent of global IT trade.
参加国が増えて協定は97年に発効。現在は78の国・地域が参加し、世界のIT貿易の97%をカバーしている。

The WTO should expand the scope of such flexible decision-making methods as part of its efforts to establish new trade rules swiftly.
 WTOは柔軟な意思決定方式を広げ、新たなルール作りを急ぐべきだ。

There are a number of areas that are crying out for new global trade rules, such as investment and electronic commerce.
投資や電子商取引など対応すべき分野は多い。

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 19

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