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Also on the agenda were a number of questions and notifications.
Again, the chairperson said she was “very” disappointed at the number of
countries that have failed to submit required notifications, including
information on their laws and regulations. This had happened despite
reminders, including a letter she sent to members on 30 July, Dr Campeanu
transitional review back to top
The discussions about China came under the country’s third transitional
review, required almost annually for a period, under Beijing’s membership
agreement. Four members asked questions:
G/LIC/Q/CHN/11, focusing on import quotas for automobiles).
Japan said that some import licences are being rejected, even for vehicles
where import licences are now supposed to be automatic, and asked China to
ensure that the regulations are not “mis-applied” particularly when all
quotas on automobiles are eliminated in 2005. China said it would continue
to implement its membership commitments, and that its current regime is
consistent with WTO rules.
US (G/LIC/Q/CHN/12, focusing on quarantine permits for animal and plant
products, the entities responsible for approving imports, and whether
licences can be bought or sold.) China said the quarantine questions should
be discussed in the committees on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and
Technical Barriers to Trade, when quarantine officials from Beijing would be
present. It said that the list of entities can be found in the relevant
regulations on the Commerce Ministry website (translations into English are
underway and will be notified to the WTO when they are ready). And it
confirmed that buying, selling or transferring licences is illegal. The US
responded that it considers the quarantine conditions to be part of import
licensing, but would be happy to hear the replies in the other committees,
assuming the replies are comprehensive.
EU (G/LIC/Q/CHN/13, focusing on China’s revised Foreign Trade Law, in
particular trading rights and restrictions on imports and exports). China
said it gave detailed replies to similar questions in the Market Access
Committee and assured members that the revised law will be implemented in a
way that is fully consistent with its membership obligations.
CANADA (because the question had just been received from Ottawa, it will be
circulated in writing later). Canada said that for shipments of recyclable
material to China, the Chinese require their officials to inspect the
material in Canada before shipping. The Chinese charge for travel and
accommodation as well as inspection. Since the Chinese reportedly do not
include travel and accommodation costs when inspecting similar shipments
from other countries, this discriminates against Canada, the delegate said.
The Chinese delegate did not have a reply yet, suggesting this might be
handled in the committees on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures or
Technical Barriers to Trade, and asked for more information.
China’s written information for the transitional review is in document G/LIC/W/23.
Separately, it has also answered questions on import licensing procedures in
Questions and notifications back to top
Only about a dozen new notifications were on the table for discussion at
this meeting. “The compliance with the notification obligations under this
agreement remains low,” Chairperson Campeanu said. “No member has requested
any technical assistance to fulfill the obligations either.”
Altogether 24 countries have never notified any laws or regulations under
any provision of the Import Licensing Agreement since it took effect in 1995
or since they joined the WTO. They are: Angola, Belize, Central African
Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea,
Guinea Bissau, Israel, Kuwait, Lesotho, Macedonia, Mauritania, Mozambique,
Myanmar, Nepal, Rwanda, St Vincent and Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Solomon
Islands, Tanzania and Thailand.
Some members supported Dr Campeanu in praising countries that have notified
and in calling for better compliance with the requirement to notify. One
added that this is important since non-tariff barriers are being negotiated
in the non-agricultural market access (NAMA) talks.
Among the issues that were questioned were:
Brazil’s requirements on certain lithium compounds — The US had follow-up
questions from discussions at the last meeting. It wanted Brazil to
elaborate on its argument that controls are needed because the lithium
compounds could be used for nuclear energy (rather than to protect domestic
producers) and it asked Brazil to notify the measures in full, as required
under the Import Licensing Agreement.
The EU’s import licensing for pigmeat and enriched uranium — the US wanted
to know why new regulations limit each importer to 10% of the pigmeat quota,
which would restrict exporters wanting to supply more than 10%; and it
wanted the EU to explain and notify the restrictions on uranium. The EU said
it had explained the pigmeat quota in the Agriculture Committee and would
circulate details to the Import Licensing Committee; and it would try to
reply on uranium for the next meeting.
Reports back to top
The committee approved its annual report to the General Council, and its
biennial review of the agreement’s implementation and operation. The annual
report will be circulated in the document series G/L/-; the biennial review
in the G/LIC/- series (both will be available on the
import licensing gateway page)
Next meetings back to top
Thursday 18 May and 28 September 2005 (other meetings possible if required)
Chairperson back to top
Ms Victoria Campeanu of Romania
(vice chairperson: Mr Dayaratna Silva of Sri Lanka.)
Background back to top
Explanation in “Understanding the WTO”
Previous meeting, 5 May 2004
WTO Documents Online
: Official documents cited here can be downloaded here. Go to “search” and
insert the document number, eg “G/LIC/Q/CHN/11”, in the “document symbol”