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WTO membership rises to 147 back to top

The Kingdom of Nepal, on 23 April, became the 147th member of the World Trade Organization.
Nepal started its accession negotiations in 1989. The 5th WTO’s Ministerial Conference, at Cancún (Mexico), approved the accession package on 11 September 2003. On 24 March 2004 the Government of the Kingdom of Nepal notified the WTO that the process of ratification and acceptance of the Protocol of Accession had been completed. According to established practice, the entry into force of the Protocol occurred 30 days later — on 23 April 2004.

Another 24 countries are in the process of negotiation to become members of the WTO.

These are (arranged by the date of their application): Algeria, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Ukraine, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Seychelles, Tonga, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Andorra, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Samoa, Lebanese Republic, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bhutan, Cape Verde, Yemen, Serbia and Montenegro, Bahamas, Tajikistan and Ethiopia.

  

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Dr. Supachai: “We must redouble our efforts”
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Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, in his remarks on 21 April as chairman of the Trade Negotiations Committee, warned negotiators that “the coming days and weeks are critical”. He said Ministers “are more determined than ever to succeed,” and that “the onus is clearly on the negotiators in Geneva to turn this political will into concrete results”.

He said that “the new Chairpersons of the bodies established by the TNC have also been working hard since their appointment in order to move the negotiations forward,” and cited the following written reports: Special Session of the Council for TRIPS; Negotiating Group on Market Access; Negotiating Group on Rules; Special Session of the Council for Trade in Services; Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Development; and Special Session of the Committee on Trade and Environment.

General Council Chairman Amb. Shotaro Oshima, during an informal meeting of Heads of Delegation on 29 April, urged members to deliver concrete results by July to “ensure the continued progress in the negotiations”.

He said that at the April TNC meeting, “there were encouraging signs of commitment to progress as well as some warning signals”.

Ambassador Oshima said that “there was also a widely-based informal understanding that the aim is to reach agreements at a framework level by the summer, and the Director-General and I both sense a clear willingness to work hard to reach this aim”.
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Director-General Supachai, in a statement before the International Monetary and Financial Committee in Washington on 24 April, cited the IMF's Trade Integration Mechanism for developing countries as “a welcome contribution to the Doha Round, in particular to attaining ambitious market access results”.

He said that “the Mechanism can help reassure low income developing countries that they will receive assistance from the international community to deal with adjustment difficulties they encounter from the loss of trade preferences which will result automatically from the lowering of MFN tariffs at the end of the Doha Round”.
  

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Goods Council agrees on chairpersons of subsidiary bodies back to top

The Council for Trade in Goods, on 27 April, agreed on a slate of chairpersons of its subsidiary bodies for this year.

The new chairpersons are: Committee on Agriculture: Mr. Roald P. Lapperre (Netherlands); Committee on Anti-Dumping: Mr. Ernesto Fernández (Costa Rica); Committee on Customs Valuation: Mr. Robin Twyman (United Kingdom); Committee on Import Licensing: Ms. V. Campeanu (Romania); Committee on Market Access: Dr. Magdi Farahat (Egypt); Committee on Rules of Origin: Ms. V. Thorstensen (Brazil); Committee on Safeguards: Mr. Hervé Drouet (France); Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures: Mr. Gregg Young (United States); Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures: Mr. J. Hirose (Japan) ; Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade: Mr. Sudhakar Dalela (India); Committee on Trade-Related Investment Measures: Mr. Sivaramen Palayathan (Mauritius); Working Party on State Trading Enterprises: Mr. R. Mosisili (Lesotho); ITA Committee: Mr. Frédéric Seppey (Canada).

The Council also welcomed its new Chairperson, Ambassador Alfredo Vicente Chiaradia of Argentina, and paid tribute to its outgoing Chairperson, Ambassador Milan Hovorka of the Czech Republic.
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Stronger than expected growth spurs modest trade recovery  back to top

Propelled by higher than expected economic growth in Asia and the United States, world trade recovered at an increased rate in 2003, and could expand further in 2004 should the global economy continue to improve, according to the WTO’s latest figures, released on 5 April.

A 2.5 per cent increase in global output in 2003 spurred world trade to recover by 4.5 per cent. While this growth was stronger than expected a year ago after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the build-up of tensions in the Middle East, trade and output expansion in real terms in 2003 remained below the average rates recorded since 1995.

However, WTO economists say that with global GDP growth expected to reach 3.7 per cent in 2004, world trade could expand by 7.5 per cent in 2004, although there are a number of risks associated with these projections — including the possibility of slower than expected import growth in the United States and a faltering in demand recovery in Western Europe.

“Clearly, the improved economic situation in the United States and Asia has given an important boost to world trade,” said WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi. “But when you look around the world, the pace of trade growth remains uneven and there remain many barriers to trade globally. Greater expansion of trade would provide support for sustained economic growth and job creation. If this potential is to be realised the many trade distortions that exist must be addressed, and the best way to do that is to bring about a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda.”
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WTO Secretariat reports significant decline in new anti-dumping investigations  back to top

The WTO Secretariat reported, on 20 April 2004, that in the period 1 July-31 December 2003, 14 Members initiated 115 anti-dumping investigations against exports from a total of 30 different countries or customs territories. This represents a significant decline from the corresponding period of 2002.

India initiated the most investigations during the second semester of 2003, 33, a significant decline from the 56 investigations it had initiated during the second semester of 2002. The United States had the second highest number of initiations (21) during the second semester of 2003, up from 13 during the corresponding period of 2002. China reported 11 initiations, up from 6 during the corresponding period of 2002. Canada, Mexico, and Australia reported, respectively, 9, 8, and 7 initiations each. The eight other Members who reported initiations reported 5 or fewer initiations each.

China remains at the top of the list of countries subject to anti-dumping investigations, with 30 investigations initiated on its exports during the second semester of 2003, the same number as during the corresponding period of 2002. The United States, the European Communities, and Japan were next, with, respectively, 12, 8, and 8 investigations initiated on their exports in the second semester of 2003. India and Korea followed with 7 each, while Chinese Taipei had 6 investigations initiated on its exports. 23 other countries or customs territories each had 4 or fewer investigations initiated on their exports during the second semester of 2003.
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DSB adopts panel report on softwood lumber, GSP scheme back to top
The Dispute Settlement Body, on 26 April, adopted the panel report on “United States — Investigation of the International Trade Commission in softwood lumber from Canada”.

Canada welcomed the panel's conclusion and urged the US to bring its measures into conformity as soon as possible. The US disagreed with the panel's ultimate conclusion but decided not to appeal because it believed that the practical significance of that factual conclusion was limited. The US also highlighted some of the panel's conclusions which it supported.

At its meeting on 20 April, the DSB adopted the Appellate Body and panel reports on India's complaint concerning the EC's GSP scheme (DS246).
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In April, the WTO issued the following panel reports:
  • On 2 April, on the United States’ complaint regarding “Mexico — Measures affecting telecommunications services” (WT/DS204/R).
  • On 6 April, on United States’ complaint against “Canada — Measures relating to exports of wheat and treatment of imported grain” (WT/DS276/R); and
  • On 13 April, “United States — Final dumping determination on softwood lumber from Canada” (DS/264/R);
The Appellate Body, on 7 April, issued its report on India's complaint against the EC in “European Communities—Conditions for the Granting of Tariff Preferences to Developing Countries” (WT/DS246/AB/R).

Appellate Body Chairman Georges Abi-Saab, on 8 April, sent a letter to the Chairperson of the Dispute Settlement Body requesting comments from Members on a number of possible amendments to the Working Procedures for Appellate Review. The letter and the text of the proposed amendments were circulated as WTO document WT/AB/WP/8.

On another matter, Mr. Abi-Saab noted with great sadness the passing on 11 April of Dr. Said El-Naggar of Egypt, who was one of the original seven members of the Appellate Body. He was appointed in December 1995 and served until 31 March 2000. During his term, he served on twelve Appellate Body Divisions and as arbitrator in two arbitrations under Article 21.3(c) of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes. He was serving as Chairman of the Panel in “Korea — Measures Affecting Trade in Commercial Vessels” when he died.

 

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Three months of WTO training for 25 developing-country officials
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Deputy Director-General Roderick Abbott, on 26 April, launched the 29th WTO Trade Policy Course organized by the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation.

Twenty-five officials from developing countries will have the opportunity to spend three months becoming conversant with the rules and functioning of the organization. This training course is to cover all WTO issues and will take the form of presentations and both interactive and simulation exercises. Participants will also be able to attend certain WTO working body meetings. Furthermore, they will have the chance to become acquainted with the work of other international organizations which are active in the fields of trade and development through visits set up in conjunction with UNCTAD, the ITC, WIPO and the World Bank.

Meanwhile, 24 government officials from 22 African countries attended on 14 April the opening ceremony for the Third Regional Trade Policy Course, organized by the WTO Secretariat in partnership with the University of Nairobi.

The ceremony was attended by Hon. Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, MP and Minister for Trade and Industry of Kenya, as well as by representatives from the University of Nairobi, and Mr. Paul Rolian, Director of the WTO Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation.

During the month, the following trade policy courses were concluded:
 

  • Thirty-one government officials from 17 countries/territories attended on 22 April the closing ceremony marking the conclusion of the Caribbean Regional Trade Policy Course, organized by the WTO Secretariat in partnership with the University of the West Indies.

  • Participants from 56 countries, on 2 April, attended the closing ceremony of the 27th and 28th WTO Trade Policy Courses held in Geneva.

The Government of the Republic of Korea, on 27 April, made a contribution of US$ 200,000 (CHF 250 000) to the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund.

Ambassador Choi Hyuck, Korea's Permanent Representative to the WTO and Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Director-General of the WTO signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the contribution by Korea.

“As one of the countries that have traded their way out of poverty, Korea stands firm in its faith that increased participation in the multilateral trading system is the key for economic development” said Korean Ambassador Choi Hyuck. “The WTO technical assistance activities provide a highly valuable opportunity for developing and least-developed countries to strengthen their capacity to realize the gains from participation in the multilateral trading system. Korea’s yearly contribution represents its continued support for WTO's commitment to trade-related capacity building of developing and least-developed countries”.
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