At the end of
the Cambodian accession working party’s fourth meeting on 16 April 2003,
participants agreed on the July target for completing the working
party’s report, although a lot of work remains on completing bilateral
negotiations and the final multilateral package.
substantive discussion during the meeting focused on a first version of
the working party’s draft report.
draft may be considered at an informal meeting in mid-June, possibly
together with draft schedules of commitments for access to Cambodia’s
goods and services markets.
year, Cambodia had revised its market access offers, further reducing
proposed tariff ceilings and adding more service sectors. In return,
Cambodia is asking for more technical assistance to help it adjust,
although it has agreed not to make this a condition for opening its
meantime, several members still have to complete their bilateral
negotiations with Cambodia on particular market access issues that
concern them, but many said they are close to agreement.
not miss this opportunity. We have all the elements before us,” said
chairperson A. Meloni of Italy as he urged members conclude their
bilateral talks and to follow the timetable. He praised Cambodia and
working party members for their flexibility.
applied to join the WTO in late 1994. It appears set to become the first
least-developed country to join since the WTO came into being in 1995.
This was the
first meeting of the Cambodia working party since the WTO General
Council agreed at the end of 2002 on guidelines to help
least-developed countries negotiate membership more easily — document
WT/L/508 (Word format, 3 pages, 34KB) (link opens in a new
considering the first draft of its final report, the working party has
moved into the final phase of the negotiations.
Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh reported on the many revised documents
and replies to questions that his government supplied in the weeks
before the meeting, particularly in March. Some of the information
included updates on legislation.
outlined his country’s revised offers:
Services: Cambodia is ready to accept specific commitments in over 60 service
sectors or sub-sectors, but it feels that responding to a few other
requests would be inappropriate.
Cambodia has revised its offers on goods, making substantial reductions
in proposed tariff rates for agricultural and non-agricultural products.
said Cambodia has been committed and flexible, and urged working party
members also to be flexible. The latest package is the best possible, he
developed countries for the technical assistance they had provided, he
added that more will be needed to help Cambodia adjust.
of the WTO (represented by Malaysia) repeated their strong backing for a
swift conclusion to bring fellow-member Cambodia into the WTO. The ASEAN
countries urged developed countries not to make tough demands since
Cambodia is a least-developed economy. They said they were disappointed
that some demands went beyond normal WTO rules, for example the demand
for Cambodia to bind its tariffs at current applied rates, or to make
market access commitments in maritime services, where no WTO member has
made a commitment. Least-developed countries and China echoed the
countries reported that they were close to agreement on bilateral issues
discussed in recent meetings in Geneva, Phnom Penh and elsewhere. The EU
said its deal is “all but finalized”. Japan said only technical issues
remain. Chinese Taipei and Australia also said they were close to
agreement. The US and Rep. of Korea said there were still a number of
issues to discuss.
Among the other issues raised in the meeting were: customs valuation,
sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade,
intellectual property, textiles, and transparency.
meetings will continue. The chairperson asked for
comments and proposed revisions of the draft report within the next two
weeks. An informal meeting will consider a new draft in June, with the
aim of formal agreement in the working party in July.
party’s mandate will be completed when the report, membership protocol
and schedules of commitments are agreed and forwarded to the General
Council or Ministerial Conference for approval. After that, Cambodia
would have to ratify the agreement. It would become a member 30 days
after informing the WTO that it has ratified.
members: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada,
China, Djibouti, EU, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Rep. Korea,
Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Panama, Singapore, Chinese Taipei,
Tanzania, Thailand, United States, Venezuela
A. Meloni (Italy)
Working Party was established on 21 December 1994. Cambodia submitted a
Memorandum on its Foreign Trade Regime in June 1999. Replies to
questions concerning the Memorandum were circulated in January 2001, the
latest revisions and updates arriving in March 2003. Contacts on market
access in goods and services have taken place on the basis of offers in
goods and services.
The 14 November 2002 meeting was the working party’s third. It marked an
advancement of the accession process because for the first time members
focused on texts for inclusion in a draft Working Party Report and,
thereby, concentrated on agreeing Cambodia’s terms of entry. The 16 April 2003 meeting was the first to consider the report.