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

PRESS RELEASE
PRESS/TPRB/146
14 November 2000
Norway: June 2000

“The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its third review of Norway's trade policies on 21 and 23 June 2000. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.

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See also:

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


TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF NORWAY
TPRB'S EVALUATION
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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 Norway 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), Bahrain (2000) Bangladesh (1992 and 2000), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992, 1996 and 2000), 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, 1997 and 2.000), 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, 1996 and 2000), 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 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993), Poland (1993 and 2000), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), 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), Tanzania (2000), 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 NORWAY
CONCLUDING
REMARKS BY THE CHAIRPERSON Back to top

We have had a positive and open discussion on Norway's trade policies. Members of the TPRB were clearly impressed by Norway's solid economic performance and the high standard of living. This was achieved, due in good part to a liberal trade regime, disciplined macroeconomic policies and the deft management of its natural resources. In this respect, Members highlighted the creation of a special fund to help the inter-generational distribution of oil and gas income. Members commended Norway for its support to developing and least developed countries, including through both direct aid and tariff preferences. They unequivocally welcomed Norway's active and constructive participation in the WTO, not the least through the leadership of the General Council by Ambassador Bryn.

On trade policies, Members expressed divergent views on Norway's position. They acknowledged Norway's overall commitment to liberal trade and investment policies. However, several questioned the high level of support granted to the agricultural sector.

Members recognized that Norway maintains low MFN tariffs on manufactured products. Moreover, in practice those products often enjoy duty free access under the several preferential agreements Norway maintains. In this respect, Norway was invited to extend this treatment to all WTO Members. Members also noted that Norway does not make use of trade defence measures. They observed that it is the only country to have eliminated ahead of time virtually all quantitative restrictions maintained under the Agreement on Textile and Clothing.

Members pointed out that although investment and ownership are generally open to foreigners some restrictions persist. In some cases, there is preferential treatment for EEA investors. They encouraged Norway to relax these restrictions and multilateralize the preferential treatment granted to EEA investors. Members stressed the high degree of liberalization already achieved in the services sector.

The concept of multifunctionality lay at the heart of the discussion on Norway's high level of assistance to agriculture. While some Members stated support for such concept, others gave priority to the principle of non-discrimination across sectors. Members also raised numerous questions on the specific instruments used to protect and assist agriculture, particularly Norway's application of tariffs, tariff quotas, SPS measures and export subsidies.

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

- measures to encourage and diversify trade;
- the gap between applied and bound rates for certain manufactures including textiles and motor vehicles;
- import charges and environmental levies;
- importation of patent protected products;
- review of competition legislation
- activities of state enterprises, particularly in tobacco and alcoholic beverages;
- state role and privatization in banking, telecommunications, postal and petroleum activities;
- regulation of and activity in maritime transport;
- assistance to shipbuilding; and
- regulatory framework for financial services.

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

In conclusion, it is my sense that Members fully acknowledged Norway's success in prudently managing an economy richly endowed with natural resources. Appreciation was also expressed for the enlightened policy Norway follows with regard to support to developing, including least developed countries. There was recognition of the liberalization and deregulation effort undertaken by Norway since its last Trade Policy Review and encouragement for it to continue in this path. In this regard, several Members believed that liberalization should also include the agricultural sector both to bring it in line with Norway's policies in other areas, as well as to strengthen the multilateral trading system as a whole.