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WTO NEWS: 2003 NEWS ITEMS

14 March 2003
Goods Council agrees on chairpersons of subsidiary bodies

The Council for Trade in Goods, on 13 March 2003, agreed on a slate of chairpersons of its subsidiary bodies for this year.

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The new chairpersons are:
  • Committee on Agriculture: Dr. Magdi Farahat (Egypt)
  • Committee on Anti-Dumping: Mr. David Evans (New Zealand)
  • Committee on Customs Valuation: Mr. Ivan Lee (Hong Kong)
  • Committee on Import Licensing: Ms. Philippa Davies (Jamaica)
  • Committee on Market Access: Ms. Jo Lomas (United Kingdom)
  • Committee on Rules of Origin: Mr. Syed Habib Ahmed (Pakistan)
  • Committee on Safeguards: Mr. Pornchai Danvivathana (Thailand)
  • Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures: Mr. Paul Martin (Canada)
  • Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures: Ms. Olga Lucia Lozano (Colombia)
  • Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade: Mr. Juan Antonio Dorantes Sanchez (Mexico)
  • Committee on Trade-Related Investment Measures: Mr. Sivaramen Palayathan (Mauritius)
  • Working Party on State Trading Enterprises: Ms. Judith Vankova (Slovak Republic)
  • ITA Committee: Mr. Hisashi Yoshikawa (Japan)

The Council also welcomed its new Chairperson, Ambassador Milan Hovorka of the Czech Republic, and paid tribute to its outgoing Chairperson, Ambassador M. Supperamaniam of Malaysia.

The Council continued its review of the operation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs). Brazil and India, supported by Colombia and Pakistan, reiterated their proposal (G/C/W/428) for amending the TRIMs Agreement to give more flexibility to developing countries to use TRIMs. Canada, the European Union and Japan said they remained unconvinced about the need to amend the Agreement while the United States said it believed the proposal went beyond the Council's mandate.

The Council agreed to send to the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements for examination the following: the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Costa Rica, and the Free Trade Agreement between the EFTA States and Singapore.

The Council devoted 1-1/2 days (12-13 March) to its work on trade facilitation (simplification of trade procedures). The following new papers were presented:

  • Canada said its paper is aimed at providing an overview of how broad trade facilitation principles could be advanced through the development of appropriate WTO commitments (“Possible Linkages between Trade Facilitation Principles, Measures, Potential Benefits and Trade-Related Technical assistance”, G/C/W/448).
  • The United States outlined a three-point approach to special and differential treatment on trade facilitation, covering transitional periods, technical assistance review and coordination mechanism, and enforcement of commitments (“Trade Facilitation: An Integrated and Comprehensive Approach to Special and Differential Treatment”, G/C/W/451).
  • New Zealand presented its national experience on trade facilitation, including how using computer system reduced customs clearance processing times from ten days to an average of 12 minutes (“Trade Facilitation: National Experience Paper from New Zealand”, G/C/W/449).
  • The European Union presented an updated version of information regarding its comprehensive technical assistance in the field of trade facilitation (“Communication from the EC on WTO Trade Facilitation: Information on Trade Related Assistance by the EC and its Member States”, G/C/W/442/Rev.1).
    Many members recognized the benefits of trade facilitation but some developing countries continued to question the need for establishing of new commitments in this area that would be subject to WTO dispute settlement.