WIDE+ and Action Aid have worked together to propose a strong feminist reply to the EU Trade Strategy Review that is opened by the EU to collect opinions for its new 5 year trade policy, reflecting on the experiences of trade with COVID19. Below are its key messages. Recommendations for a feminist perspective on digital trade will follow.
We believe Europe needs to engage in a deep review of its trade and investment policy in order to fully engage in the just and green transition announced by the Green Deal and to contribute to EU’s gender equality strategy. We plead that the time has come not just for slight adjustments to trade and investment liberalisation, but for DG Trade to pursue a different mandate, i.e. a trade policy that fully respects international standards and countries governments’ regulatory space to redistribute wealth, respect human rights and protect our planet.
In a globalised world, improving EU’s resilience will require a sustainable global economy, and resilient trade partners. Our submission therefore looks at the changes that are needed not only to protect well-being and the environment in Europe, but also in partner countries. This notably requires to (1) Stop promoting trade and investment measures and rules that limit the policy options of partner countries to adapt to their changing circumstances; and (2) Enable shorter, more diversified and more responsible value chains, in Europe as in partner countries.
We formulate a number of specific proposals, from the exclusion of public services from European trade and investment negotiations to the integration of environmental and social objectives in a comprehensive manner across all trade agreement provisions, beyond TSD chapters. This, together with improved impact assessments, should help ensuring that there are no provisions in the agreement that go against the objectives and standards enshrined in the TSD chapter. The same holds true of gender equality: a focus on women’s entrepreneurs is far from sufficient to address the massive impacts of trade and investment agreements on women’s rights.
It is fundamental, to build a fairer and more stable world, to make sure our trade and investment policy does not incentivise inequalities within Europe, nor in partner countries where such inequalities are sometimes abyssal. Therefore, the EU trade and investment policy should not benefit disproportionately corporate interests above human rights – which means for example that investors’ protection mechanisms should be terminated.