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TRADE POLICY REVIEWS: SECOND PRESS RELEASE AND CHAIRPERSON'S  CONCLUSIONS
Iceland: February 2000

“ Members commended Iceland's strong support for an open multilateral trading system and its commitment to liberal trade policies, evidenced by its generally low tariffs. Iceland was also commended for its leadership in the ongoing efforts to commence work in the WTO concerning subsidies in fisheries. Noting Iceland's applications for accession to the WTO Plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement, Members expressed their hope that the negotiations be completed soon.”

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See also:

First press release
Summary of Secretariat report
  > Summary of Government report


PRESS RELEASE
PRESS/TPRB/127
7 February 2000

TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF ICELAND
TPRB'S EVALUATION
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The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its second review of Iceland's trade policies on 2 and 4 February 2000. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.

The review enables the TPRB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member countries at regular periodic intervals to monitor significant trends and developments which may have an impact on the global trading system.

The review is based on two reports which are prepared respectively by the WTO Secretariat and the government under review and which cover all aspects of the country's trade policies, including its domestic laws and regulations, the institutional framework, bilateral, regional and other preferential agreements, the wider economic needs and the external environment. A record of the discussion and the Chairperson's summing-up together with these two reports will be published in due course at the complete trade policy review of Iceland and will be available from the WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva 21.

Since December 1989, the following reports have been completed: Argentina (1992 and 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 and 1998), Austria (1992), Bangladesh (1992), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992 and 1996), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995), C˘te d’Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995 and 1997), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Ghana (1992), Guinea (1999), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 and 1998), Hungary (1991 and 1998), Iceland (1994 and 2000), India (1993 and 1998), Indonesia (1991, 1994 and 1998), Israel (1994 and 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995 and 1998), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992 and 1996), Lesotho (1998), Macau (1994), Malaysia (1993 and 1997), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995), Mexico (1993 and 1997), Morocco (1989 and 1996), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and1998), Norway (1991 and 1996), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994), the Philippines (1993 and 1999), Poland (1993), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992 and 1996), Slovak Republic (1995), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka(1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991 and 1996), Thailand (1991, 1995 and 1999), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 and 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1999), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).

TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY:   REVIEW OF ICELAND
CONCLUDING
REMARKS BY THE CHAIRPERSON Back to top

We have had positive and open discussions on Iceland's trade policies and measures. Members of the TPRB were clearly impressed by Iceland's outstanding economic recovery since its first Review in 1994, due in good part to Iceland's generally liberal trade regime, disciplined macroeconomic management and continued structural reforms. Those policies and the deft exploitation of its fish and energy resources have permitted Iceland to reap the benefits of international specialization and freer trade, thus achieving one of the world's highest living standards. In the current favourable conjuncture, Iceland major short-term challenge was preventing the economy form overheating.

Members commended Iceland's strong support for an open multilateral trading system and its commitment to liberal trade policies, evidenced by its generally low tariffs. Iceland was also commended for its leadership in the ongoing efforts to commence work in the WTO concerning subsidies in fisheries. Noting Iceland's applications for accession to the WTO Plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement, Members expressed their hope that the negotiations be completed soon.

Members noted the important changes already implemented in the agricultural sector but encouraged Iceland to introduce further trade-liberalization and restructuring measures to reduce protection and assistance to that sector. Concern was expressed with respect to Iceland's over-reliance on earnings from exports of fisheries to finance imports and Iceland was encouraged to seek diversification of its export basket. The increasing complexity of Iceland's trade regime, resulting from the increasing number of preferential agreements subscribed by EFTA, was noted. Members also noted the existence of investment restrictions on strategic sectors and enquired whether Iceland intended to relax these restrictions.

While noting the effort undertaken to reform and liberalize its trade regime, Members encouraged Iceland to examine areas were further liberalization could be implemented, to review and simplify its system of indirect taxes, and to narrow the gap between applied and bound tariff rates.

Members also asked for details in a number of more specific areas including:

- measures affecting the importation, distribution and retail sales of alcoholic beverages;

- duty suspension schemes;

- legislation on government procurement and market access and national treatment for foreign enterprises;

- some aspects of trade-related intellectual property rights, particularly regarding patents and geographical indications;

- certain aspects of competition policy, including the non-application of national legislation to export cartels;

- MFN exemptions in audio visual and air transport services;

- national treatment limitations to non-EEA enterprises under the GATS;

- integration of textiles under the ATC;

- customs tariff bindings;

- the allocation and effects of tariff quotas in agriculture;

- the allocation of fish quotas;

- the import licensing regime; and

- support programmes and measures taken to achieve self-sufficiency in agriculture.

Members appreciated the comprehensive oral and written responses provided by the Icelandic delegation in the context of this meeting, as well as Iceland's undertaking to respond in writing to some additional specific questions as soon as possible.

In conclusion, it is my sense that Members fully acknowledged Iceland's recent success in managing a specialized, resource-based economy, and trusted that current efforts to bring it to a "soft landing" would do well. They recognized Iceland's structural reforms over the past few years and encouraged it to continue in this path as to secure the flexibility necessary to ride out future external shocks. Members welcomed Iceland commitment to trade liberalization; they pointed out the arguments in favour of non-discriminatory liberal policies to secure Iceland's past gains.