Mr President, allow me to join others in welcoming Secretary of State Vadim Gumene from the Ministry of Economy to this Trade Policy Review and paying tribute to the excellent Ambassador of Moldova , Tatiana Molcean, who seems so ubiquitous in this town that I wonder if she has the same twin sisters. Buna diminished! [Good morning!]
Allow me to echo the thanks to the Government of Moldova and to colleagues in the WTO Secretariat for producing their respective reports. And let me also thank our presenter, the Ambassador of Thailand, for her able facilitation of this review and for her insights. At the outset, let me acknowledge, as Ambassador Filipenko of Ukraine so eloquently did, Moldova’s extraordinary efforts to support Ukraine during Putin’s aggression. Echoing the comments of the representative of the Russian Federation, it is time for President Putin to respect the rules and procedures of international law and withdraw his troops from the sovereign territory of Ukraine and put an end to the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the people from Ukraine.
Let me also recognize some of the extraordinary measures taken by Moldova. It has welcomed and continues to welcome hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who have crossed the border, more per capita than any other country in the world – the vast majority of whom are women, children and the elderly. What generosity. What solidarity. In the field of energy, Moldova has – alongside Ukraine – integrated into the regional-international electricity grid. It is also working on a common crisis management platform. And yet, despite the enormous challenges it faces, Moldova is still determined to fulfill its obligations under the WTO. This is demonstrated by the efforts made here today by Moldova and the considerable progress it has made since its first review. This reflects Moldova’s strong support for this Organization and the rules-based multilateral trading system, both inside and outside this House.
With regard to our bilateral relationship, I am pleased to report that during the reporting period, the UK and Moldova signed a Strategic Partnership, Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which entered into effective in 2021. This agreement has considerably strengthened our commercial relations. In 2021, the total trade in goods and services between the UK and Moldova was £1.2 billion. This represents an increase of more than 30% compared to 2020. Like the UK, Moldova enjoys a strong services sector, which has attracted the largest share of inward FDI stock, led by financial activities and insurance. Our agreement also sets out the ambitions of the UK and Moldova for our future relationship, including strengthening our political, economic, security and cultural ties. From a commercial point of view, several large British companies are already established in Moldova, including in the pharmaceutical sector. The British Embassy in Chișinău has also supported a number of projects aimed at promoting the development of the Moldovan private sector, including the manufacture of luxury British clothing brands in Moldova. With regard to the reports produced for this review, the UK would like to thank Moldova for their helpful responses to our advanced questions. In the interest of transparency, the United Kingdom had requested clarifications regarding Moldova’s regulatory framework, national development strategy, intellectual property rights enforcement mechanisms and agricultural sector reforms.
Mr President, the UK warmly welcomes the wide range of reforms that Moldova has implemented over the past five years. These reforms have been crucial for businesses in both our countries. For example, the authorities have reduced the number of activities subject to licensing, and where a license is required, it is now generally done electronically. Moldova has also usefully reduced the number of inspection bodies and inspections, with a view to reducing regulatory costs for businesses while increasing the effectiveness of controls. These measures provide an attractive environment to facilitate higher levels of investment. The UK also welcomes Moldova’s active role in discussions and reform initiatives here at the WTO. Specifically, allow me to welcome Moldova’s joining the GPA in 2016 and its participation in a number of joint initiatives that benefit businesses and consumers around the world, including domestic regulation of services and the e-commerce.
In conclusion, the UK welcomes the progress Moldova has made since its first review. Moldova’s reforms have resulted in a more open and liberal economy that welcomes and values foreign participation, and upholds the values of the rules-based multilateral trading system. The UK welcomes Moldova’s intention to capitalize on these developments and looks forward to continuing our close relationship, as proactive, progressive and outward-looking partners. We wish our Moldovan friends and partners a successful second Trade Policy Review.