WTO: 2014 NEWS ITEMS

COUNCIL FOR TRADE IN GOODS

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Goods Council news

MINUTES:

These chairs will take office when they have been formally elected by the committee or working party concerned.

Market Access Committee

Ms. Alana HUDSON (New Zealand)

Agriculture Committee

Ms. Miriam Beatriz CHAVES (Argentina)

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Committee

Ms. Lilian BWALYA (Zambia)

Technical Barriers to Trade Committee

Mr. Filipe RAMALHEIRA (Portugal)

Trade-related Investment Measures Committee

Mr. Víctor ECHEVERRÍA UGARTE (Spain)

Anti-Dumping Practices Committee

Mr. Andrew STAINES (United Kingdom)

Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Committee

Mr. Eduardo MINORU CHIKUSA (Brazil)

Safeguards Committee

Ms. Kim KAMPEL (South Africa)

Import Licensing Committee

Mr. Tsotetsi 'MAKONG (Lesotho)

Rules of Origin Committee

Mr. Ken Chang-keng CHEN (Chinese Taipei)

Customs Valuation Committee

Ms. Joanna K.Y. CHEUNG (Hong Kong, China)

State Trading Enterprises Working Party

Mr. Mohamed AL-SAADI (Oman)

Trade in Information Technology Products (ITA) Committee

Mr. Fréderic PAYOT (Switzerland)

New trade concerns

Panama expressed concern about recent Venezuelan Decrees restricting access to foreign currency and establishing a state company to handle trade. It said Venezuela has suspended foreign currency access for travel and remittances to Panama, and also for importation of Panamanian goods. It said it is considering all possible actions, including dispute settlement. Venezuela said it has suspended diplomatic and trade relations with Panama because of that country's unfriendly action. Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua supported Venezuela, and urged both countries to resolve their problems through bilateral exchanges.

The Russian Federation, under “Other Business”, expressed concern about a recent announcement by the EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht granting trade preferences to Ukraine. It said the EU must ensure that any EU unilateral trade preference would be in full compliance with the WTO, and not prejudice the interests of other members not benefitting from this treatment. Ukraine said that it is grateful for EU assistance, which is a step towards an Association Agreement with the EU. The EU said this measure was taken in the context of its Free Trade Agreement with Ukraine, an early announcement of which had been made to the WTO. It said this FTA is fully compatible with WTO rules.

The Russian Federation also expressed concern about a recent Executive Order signed by President Barak Obama that listed persons of Russian Federation whose bank accounts were blocked. It said it is closely monitoring the effect of this measure on Russian operators and on the potential violation of WTO Agreements. It urged other members not to be drawn to political motivations when it comes to trade. The US said it has carefully reviewed the measure in question and is confident that about its consistency with WTO rules.

Previous trade concerns

A number of members again reiterated trade concerns raised at previous meetings of the Goods Council:

  • Russian Federation – Trade restricting measures. The EU, Japan and the US reiterated their concerns about trade restrictions taken by Russia after its WTO accession. The EU said it is disappointed with Russia's WTO record , adding that it had launched two cases in the WTO against Russia, the latest of which is about the Russian ban on pork imports from the EU. It complained about Russia's sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)measures on EU products like potato, live animals and dairy products, and its imposition of applied tariffs higher than its bound WTO rates on over 150 products. Japan expressed concern about Russia's high applied tariffs on refrigerators and television sets. The US also expressed concern about Russia's trade restrictions, and its record on WTO notifications. Ukraine complained about Russia's trade restrictions on Ukrainian confectionary and dairy products. Chinese Taipei, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Korea also expressed concerns about Russia's trade restrictions. Russia said that it fully supported transparency in the WTO, and that it had made over 100 notifications to the WTO, which had been a big administrative burden to a newly-acceded member. On applied tariffs, it said it has counted only six tariff lines subject to differences with members. On SPS measures, it said its pork ban was originally limited to only two EU members but was extended to the whole of EU due to a previous agreement with the EU. It said that it was prepared to solve trade problems with Ukraine under various bilateral agreements.

  • Ukraine – Trade policy and measures. Japan said that the transition to a new government in Ukraine gives an opportunity for reform. It welcomed Ukraine's decision to end its safeguard measures on passenger cars. The US said it strongly support the new government of Ukraine, and welcomed its new market-economy reforms. It urged Ukraine to take heed of the views of many WTO members and abandon its efforts to renegotiate tariff bindings under GATT Article XXIV. The EU also expressed support for the new trade direction of Ukraine. Ukraine thanked members for their support and said it has decided to reduce its tariffs on passenger cars, and that its parliament has passed a law cancelling the vehicle recycling tax and the excise duty on re-equipped trucks.

  • Indonesia's import and export restricting policies and practices. The EU, Japan and the US reiterated concerns expressed at previous meetings about Indonesia's trade measures. They also expressed concern about the recent enactment of Indonesia's Industry Law and Trade Law, and its ban on export of mineral ores. The EU said it has growing concern regarding Indonesia's use of protectionist measures to strengthen domestic production. It cited requirements on import licensing and domestic content, pre-shipment inspection, and the export ban on raw materials. The US said it has continuing and deepening concern about trade trends in Indonesia, including in the sectors on agriculture, energy and commercial goods such as toys. Japan expressed concern about Indonesia's Mining Law which restricted exports of raw materials like nickel ore, which it said could be in violation of WTO rules. New Zealand welcomed Indonesia's lifting of quotas on beef from New Zealand, but was still concerned about remaining restrictions on animal and horticultural products. Australia, Canada, Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Korea also expressed concerns. Indonesia said its imports have been growing, reaching some $171 billion last year. It has enacted changes in trade with the removal of quantitative restrictions on horticultural and animal products. It said it is ready to continue to work with other interested members to find solutions to trade problems.

  • Brazil – indirect taxation; conditions to obtain tax benefits in various sectors. Japan reiterated concerns stated at previous meetings about Brazil's INOVAR automotive programme. It said these measures discriminate against foreign firms, and could be in violation of WTO rules. It was also concerned about Brazil's use of indirect taxes to assist domestic industries in various sectors, including communications network equipment. The EU said that it had requested dispute settlement consultations with Brazil on this matter. Canada, the US, Australia and Korea also expressed concerns. Brazil said it is ready to clarify its measures with Japan and other members. It added that it is engaged in consultations with the EU. It said its measures are designed to achieve economic development while promoting technical innovation and protecting the environment.

  • EU –The EU Renewable Energy Directive (EU RED)/ Restrictions on importation of biodiesel from Argentina. Indonesia reiterated its concern about EU's energy directive and a recent anti-dumping measure, which it said had restricted imports of palm oil biodiesel from Indonesia. Argentina and Malaysia supported Indonesia. The EU said that its anti-dumping measure is in full conformity with the WTO, and that its directive reflects its environmental protection objectives. Argentina said it had brought to WTO dispute settlement its concern about Spain and EU's restrictions on imports of biodiesel from Argentina. Under another item, Indonesia expressed concern about calculations of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the renewability of Indonesian palm oil biodiesel.

  • Nigeria – Local content measures in oil and gas. The US and the EU expressed concern that they have not received responses from Nigeria from their questions submitted in 2011. Japan and Australia shared this concern. Nigeria said that it is fully committed to its WTO obligations and that the measures are part of a transparent process. It said it had discussed this matter at its recent bilateral meeting with the US, and invited interested members to discuss bilaterally this matter.

  • Japan – Wood use points programme. Canada and the EU reiterated concerns that Japan's programme discriminates against wood imports. The EU complained about the rejection of application from companies in Finland, Sweden and Austria to participate in the programme. The US welcomed Japan's approval of the Douglas Fir wood, but expressed concern about the delay in the processing of the application. Indonesia and New Zealand also expressed concerns. Japan said that its panel of experts has approved applications from the US and Austria, and that it would notify the programme to the WTO.

Other matters

The Philippines reiterated its request for a waiver relating to special treatment for rice. It again emphasized that this request is in the context of its food security needs. It said that it had been working on this matter for the past two years with other members, not only in Geneva but also in Manila and other capitals. Indonesia, India, Vietnam and China supported the Philippine request and urged members concerned to conclude consultations with the Philippines. Thailand, Canada, Australia and the US said they were still consulting with the Philippines on this matter.

The Council granted Gabon's request to extend the agreed period for its renegotiation of its tariff schedule for 60 days beginning on 17 April 2014 and ending on 17 June 2014.

The Council also approved the EU's request extension of the deadline to 1 January 2015 for the withdrawal of concessions by the members concerned with respect to the EU's enlargement to 28 member states with the accession of Croatia.

The chair, Ambassador Dacio Castillo (Honduras), noted the recent notification of the following regional trade agreements: Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and Chinese Taipei, Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua)

The chair noted that at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, the Ministers agreed to continue to revitalize the work programme on electronic commerce. Cuba expressed full support for the Goods Council work in electronic commerce.

At the end of the meeting, the Council elected Ambassador Joakim Reiter of Sweden as the new chair.

END

 

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