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> More on import
The committee’s main function is currently transparency and review,
and as usual, the main purpose of this hour-long meeting was information on
members’ import licensing procedures. On the table were six questions or
replies to questions, and 31 notifications from 21 members. Delegates spoke
on a handful of these.
The chairperson continued her efforts — and her predecessors’ and the
Secretariat’s — to encourage members to notify their import licensing
measures. This includes notifying if they have no import licensing
requirements at all.
In general, compliance with the notification obligations still remains low.
The chairperson noted that 24 of the WTO’s 147 members have never notified
anything, most of them members since the beginning in 1995. While many are
least-developed countries, some are not, she said. In addition, 33 members
have never notified their laws and regulations. And 37 members have never
submitted replies to the committee’s Questionnaire on Import Licensing
Procedures since they became WTO members, while many members have missed the
annual 30 September deadline for this notification — e.g. only 40 members
notified last year.
The US, which has been most active in trying to encourage members to meet
their obligations to notify under the agreement, said the situation is
improving, but remained concerned and looked forward to further progress.
Altogether, on the agenda were reviews of 10 notifications on legislation,
19 replies to the Questionnaire on Import Licensing Procedures, and two
notifications on new import licensing procedures or changes to existing
Among the issues that were discussed were:
Brazil’s import licensing requirements for
soda ash (Brazil said this could be used to process cocaine into “crack”)
and lithium carbonate (according to Brazil, could be used in the
production of nuclear energy) — questions from the US (document G/LIC/Q/BRA/1).
China’s import licensing policies in general
— questions from the US (G/LIC/Q/CHN/8 and 4)
Indonesia’s import licensing requirements
for textiles — the US questioned whether the measures would really prevent
smuggling as Indonesia argued (G/LIC/Q/IDN/2, 2/Add.1, and 3) — and also
for sugar, iron and steel — Australia questioning how the measures could
meet the stated objectives of protecting public health, security, public
safety, public morals, etc (G/LIC/Q/IDN/4)
Turkey’s import licensing requirements for
some agricultural products — US questions (Turkey’s replies in G/LIC/Q/TUR/2).
Replies to the committee’s Questionnaire on
Import Licensing Procedures: Canada sought more information from Brazil
(more detailed list of products subject to non-automatic licensing) and
China (whether lists of quota-owners would be released), and the US from
India (whether a full list of customs classifications of exports and
imports would be available on the relevant website).
Ms Philippa Davies of Jamaica.
At the end of today’s meeting she handed over to Ms Victoria Campeanu of
Romania for the coming year.
The committee’s vice chairperson changed, Mr Lucien Mazzega of France
handing over to Mr Dayaratna Silva of Sri Lanka.
Thursday 30 September 2004
Explanation in “Understanding the WTO”