WTO: 2012 NEWS ITEMS

SUB-COMMITTEE ON LEAST-DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

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Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries

  

Among the findings of the Secretariat report “Market Access for Products and Services of Export Interest to Least-Developed countries” were:

  • Major product categories which contributed to the 2011 expansion included fuels and mining products, as well as agricultural products, which experienced price hikes. LDCs’ exports of manufactured goods and commercial services expanded by 24.8 per cent and 15.6 per cent, respectively. Exports of fuels and mining products grew by 25 per cent.
  • The LDC share in world trade (exports and imports) increased from 1.09 per cent in 2010 to 1.12 per cent in 2011.
  • Thanks to the robust growth of commodities exports, the trade balance in goods of the LDCs narrowed down considerably in 2011 — registering a deficit of US$3.3 billion as against $26.5 billion in 2009.
  • The last decade has witnessed a fundamental change with regard to destination markets for goods originating from LDCs. At the beginning of the decade, developed countries absorbed 53 per cent of LDC export. By 2011, their share shrank to 41 per cent. On the other hand, LDCs’ exports to developing countries had expanded more than seven-fold to account for 52 per cent of their total exports in 2011.

Haiti welcomed the generally positive figures but stressed the need to also look at the situation in the field, and there poverty and hunger remain challenges for LDCs. He said the LDC share in world trade as not enough, and that a lot still needs to be done.

Bangladesh said the rise in LDC exports is encouraging but this is attributable mainly to the rise in the  prices of fuel and mining products. It thanked the developed and developing countries that have provided duty-free access to LDC products, and urged members that have not yet done so to grant similar access to the LDCs.

Tanzania said members need to exert more effort to help LDCs come out of poverty, and urged improved market access for LDC products.

China said it is encouraged by the positive progress of LDC trade and underlined their increased trade with developing countries and LDCs. It said it had continued to be the number one destination for LDC exports since 2008, adding that 98 per cent LDC goods now enter China duty-free. However, it said LDCs remain marginalized in world trade, and urged more support for them through Aid for Trade and investment. It added that the conclusion of the Doha Round would also help LDCs.

India also noted the rise in LDC exports to developing countries, adding that it is the second biggest developing country export destination for LDCs. It said the share of LDCs in world trade remains abnormally low, and urged expanding Aid for Trade for LDCs.

The European Union said it is encouraged by the growing preferential treatment for LDC exports. It welcomed the positive trends but deplored the fact that trade participation of LDCs remains marginal. It said that a fifth of LDC exports still face duties. It urged more Aid for Trade for LDCs.

The United States said a highlight of the report is the growing South-South trade. It welcomes further discussions on how the LDCs could meet challenges they face in world trade.

Pakistan expressed  cautious optimism with the improvement in LDC trade, in particular against the backdrop of economic crisis. It urged further efforts to assist LDCs including through targeted Aid for Trade.

Australia said it is encouraged by the sustained trade progress of the LDCs, and urged more market access and investment to LDCs. It noted that it had been applying duty-free, quota-free treatment to LDC products since 2003.

Colombia said that a great deal remains to be done for the LDCs, and suggested that members start discussing deliverables for the LDCs at the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali.

Turkey said the considerable improvement in trade performance is still far from meeting the needs of LDCs.

The Solomon Islands welcomed the progress in LDC trade but said a lot remains to be done. It called for more Aid for Trade assistance for LDCs.

The Chair, Ambassador Steffen Smidt (Denmark), concluded that there had been an extremely substantial debate on the Secretariat report. He said he would reflect on ways by which Members could continue the discussion on the report.

On another matter, the Secretariat of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) reported on its recent activities. It said that funding pledges have reached around $240 million. It is proceeding with the implementation of projects in many LDCs, and that the EIF mid-term review is due to be completed in December 2012.

Haiti underlined the need for progress in terms of more funding and in enlarging the donor base. In this regard, it urged developing countries to participate in EIF funding.

Australia said the EIF plays an important institutional role in assisting LDCs. It welcomed as positive developments the EIF approval of an increased number of projects for LDCs.

The European Union welcomed the EIF report, adding that it has great interest in the results of the mid-term review.

The EIF is a multi-donor programme, which helps LDCs play a more active role in the global trading system. The programme has a wider goal of promoting economic growth and sustainable development and helping to lift more people out of poverty. The programme is currently helping 47 LDCs worldwide, supported by a multi-donor trust fund with a funding target of US$ 250 million.

A representative of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) made a presentation to the Sub-Committee. He explained that the facility a global partnership established by the FAO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the World Bank, the WHO and the WTO. It is designed to help developing countries enhance capacity to comply with international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. Since its inception, the STDF has devoted 47 per cent of project resources to LDCs.

On another agenda item, Haiti recalled the suggested changes of the LDC Group to update the current WTO Work Programme for LDCs submitted in April this year.The chair said that he would undertake informal consultations with a view to producing an updated Work Programme by the end of 2012.

Under “Other Business”, Haiti announced that the LDC delegations will hold a retreat in the weekend of 20-21 October 2012 in Montreux, Switzerland to discuss, among other things, LDC issues for the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali.

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