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POLICY REVIEWS: SECOND PRESS RELEASE AND
The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its second review of the Slovak Republic on 21 and 23 November 2001. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.
TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY: REVIEW OF THE SLOVAK REPUBLIC
TPRB'S EVALUATION Back to top
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 the Slovak Republic 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), Brunei Darussalam (2001), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995 and 2001), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995 and 2001), Côte d’Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996 and 2001), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2000), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Gabon (2001), Ghana (1992 and 2001), 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, 1995,1998 and 2000), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992, 1996 and 2000), Lesotho (1998), Macao (1994 and 2001), Madagascar (2001), Malaysia (1993 and 1997), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995 and 2001), Mexico (1993 and 1997), Morocco (1989 and 1996), Mozambique (2001), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), OECS (2001), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993 and 1999), Poland (1993 and 2000), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), Slovak Republic (1995 and 2001), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka (1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991, 1996 and 2000 (jointly with Liechtenstein)), 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, 1999 and 2001), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).
We have had an open and very informative discussion of the trade policies and practices of the Slovak Republic. Members appreciated the opportunity to gain a much better understanding of Slovakia's trade-related policies, especially at a time when substantial reforms were being made. Our improved understanding has been very much helped by the frankness and contribution of the Slovak delegation, and I thank them for that.
Members commended Slovakia's impressive progress in transforming to a market economy, with trade and investment liberalization as major features of this process. It is now seen as a functioning market economy, becoming increasingly integrated into the world economy. Slovakia has substantially increased its multilateral commitments in the WTO during the review period.
Members noted the gains in macro stabilization, including fiscal consolidation, since the late 1990s. Although unemployment remains high, the economy is beginning to recover, and prospects are promising. Members noted that despite past economic difficulties, the Government has not resorted to protectionist measures nor trade remedies, and indeed it has taken further steps to liberalize its trade regime.
Structural reform has been revitalised. Slovakia's overall legislative and institutional framework is being strengthened, including important commercial changes, such as to the bankruptcy procedures. Members generally agreed that many of these positive outcomes are linked to Slovakia's EU accession plans, and referred to the substantial achievements in these negotiations thus far. Members also supported the active and more transparent privatization programme covering key sectors, such as in telecommunications and banking.
Members agreed that Slovakia plays a full role in the WTO but some wondered how Slovakia would balance its regional arrangements with its multilateral commitments, and advised that regional integration should not detract from Slovakia's multilateral liberalization, including in agriculture. Some members were concerned about the possible negative impact of Slovakia's regional integration on third countries, noting that most of its trade was non-MFN due to a relatively large number of preferential trade agreements. They urged Slovakia to continue pursuing multilateral liberalization to narrow the gap between preferential and MFN tariffs.
Members commented favourably on Slovakia's overall low tariffs, although noting that transparency could be improved by further rationalization, such as reducing tariff escalation and removing duty exemptions as well as higher seasonal duties on certain agricultural products. Members welcomed the fact that the import surcharge, maintained for balance-of-payments reasons, had been terminated on schedule from 2001. Slovakia also has relatively few non-tariff barriers.
Several Members appreciated the special non-trade concerns confronting Slovakia on agriculture. However, some urged Slovakia to extend its liberalisation efforts to agriculture, which receives relatively high tariff and other assistance. Several delegations noted that Slovakia's agricultural assistance as measured by the OECD had increased substantially since 1996. They questioned the use by Slovakia of food self-sufficiency policies based on agricultural assistance to achieve food security.
Members were impressed with the developments toward liberalizing Slovakia's services sector. Key sectors, such as banking, insurance, telecommunications and transport, had been deregulated and exposed to greater competition, including from foreign sources. Privatisation no longer exclude sensitive state-owned monopolies. Members encouraged Slovakia to continue with its privatization efforts.
Members also sought additional details in a number of specific areas, including:
Written and oral replies by the Slovak delegation helped clarify the issues raised by Members, and contributed to their improved understanding of the country's current trade policies and measures. Slovakia also undertook to send additional information on some matters.
In conclusion, this successful Review has highlighted Slovakia's on-going liberalization as a means of improving economic efficiency and of further integrating itself into the world economy. Slovakia's commitment to the multilateral trading system is well recognized. Along with Members, I encourage the Slovak Republic to continue to pursue such open policies. We all welcome Slovakia's strong support of the WTO, as well as its role in Doha for further multilateral trade negotiations. Liberalization on all fronts would continue to benefit Slovakia, and help alleviate any adverse effects of its regional trade arrangements on other Members.