Progress has been made in stabilizing the economy; further reforms would
1. This first Trade Policy Review of Djibouti has been both thorough
and informative; it has allowed a better understanding of Djibouti's
trade policies and practices, and of their outlook. We owe this to the
presence of a high-level delegation of Djibouti, led by H.E. Mr. Rifki
Abdoulkader Bamakhrama, Minister of Trade and Industry, to the very
incisive comments by our discussant, Ambassador Samuel Amehou, and to
the active involvement of Members.
2. Members acknowledged Djibouti's reform efforts, and emphasized the
contribution of port activities to its recent economic performance.
They encouraged Djibouti to pursue its reforms, in particular to
further reduce state intervention in the economy, address its
supply-side constraints and rationalize its trade regime, with a view
to diversifying its economy and further benefiting from its membership
of the WTO. Referring to Djibouti's recent experience with the
Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) process under the Integrated
Framework, Members encouraged Djibouti to mainstream trade into its
development and poverty reduction strategies. Questions were posed
about Djibouti's further integration into regional groupings,
including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA),
and about its planned strategies to fully exploit trade preferences
available to it.
3. Members commended Djibouti for having bound all its tariff lines
and for its ongoing customs reforms. However, they expressed concerns
about the lack of transparency in its internal consumption tax (TIC)
system: considered as a tariff, the TIC rates carried by some tariff
lines could be seen as exceeding Djibouti's bindings; otherwise, the
exemption of most domestic production from the TIC could lead to
concerns about compliance with the WTO principle of national
treatment. Members urged Djibouti to implement the WTO Customs
Valuation Agreement, and to take steps to reform its taxation system
and to meet the notification requirements under the WTO Agreements.
Further information was sought about Djibouti's government procurement
regime, the scope of activities allowed in its free zones, and about
the codes on investments and on commerce under preparation. Referring
to a recent declaration by the Government of Djibouti, a Member noted
that implementation of any restriction not in conformity with WTO
rules could result in a problem.
4. Members also sought clarification on other issues, notably:
agriculture; mining and energy; services; standards and technical
regulations; investment incentives; protection of intellectual
property rights; and technical assistance needs.
5. Members appreciated the responses provided by the Djibouti
6. In conclusion, Members value Djibouti's efforts and its commitment
to improving its business environment, with a view to fully exploiting
its comparative advantages. A business friendly environment, combined
with the full enforcement of the WTO Agreements by Djibouti and the
improvement of its multilateral commitments on good and services, will
enhance the transparency and predictability of its trade regime, and
contribute to attracting the foreign direct investment needed for the
diversification of its economy. I am pleased that many Members
identified ways in which they were assisting Djibouti and have
committed to continue doing so. I urge both the WTO Membership and the
Secretariat to be receptive to Djibouti's needs of trade-related
technical assistance, which, together with its reforms, would help it
to fully integrate into the multilateral trading system.