22 March 2005

Goods Council agrees on chairpersons of subsidiary bodies

The Council for Trade in Goods, on 11 March 2005, agreed on a slate of chairpersons of its subsidiary bodies for this year.

The new chairpersons are:

  • Committee on Agriculture: Dr. Magdi Farahat (Egypt)

  • Committee on Anti-Dumping: Ms. Frida Collste (Sweden)

  • Committee on Customs Valuation: Mr. Joo Ha Woo (Korea)

  • Committee on Import Licensing: Ms. Pamela Cooper (Canada)

  • Committee on Market Access: Mr. Martin Pospisil (Czech Republic)

  • Committee on Rules of Origin: Ms. Vera Thorstensen (Brazil)

  • Committee on Safeguards: Ms. Ana Novik (Chile)

  • Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures: Mr. Gregg Young (United States)

  • Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures: Ms. Victoria Campeanu (Romania)

  • Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade: Mr. Margers Krams (Latvia)

  • Committee on Trade-Related Investment Measures: Mr. Antonio Buencamino (Philippines)

  • Working Party on State Trading Enterprises: Mr. Benjamin Katjipuka (Namibia)

  • ITA Committee: Mr. Simon Chan (Hong Kong, China)

The Council elected by acclamation Ambassador Vesa Tapani Himanen (Finland) as its new chairman. Amb. Himanen paid tribute to the leadership of Amb. Choi Hyuck (Korea) during the past year.

The United States requested a waiver for its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the extension of waivers for its two other trade preference programmes: the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBRERA) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA).. It said that one way of promoting the integration of developing countries into the multilateral trading system is through duty-free access to its market. Rwanda, on behalf of the African Group, said that AGOA has led to substantial increase in exports to the US. It urged the swift approval of the waiver extension. Jamaica, on behalf of the beneficiaries, said that 80% of their exports now enter the US duty-free because of CBRERA. Ecuador and Peru underlined the importance of ATPA in encouraging poor farmers to shift from illegal crops. A number of delegations indicated their interest to participate in informal consultations on the US requests.

Regarding the compensation negotiations (under GATT Article XXVIII) in the context of the enlargement of the European Union, the Chairman said that in informal consultations, most members favoured an extension of the negotiations longer than the two-month extension proposed by the EU. Japan, Colombia, the US, Brazil, India, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Ecuador, New Zealand and Malaysia expressed support for a longer extension period. The EU said that while it wants to keep the momentum going, its main aim is to have a good negotiated result. Thus, it could agree to a three-month extension at the meeting. The Chairman proposed, and the Council agreed, to approve the extension of the deadline by three months.

The Council agreed to forward the following free trade agreements to the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements for examination: between the EFTA States and Chile; between Albania and Romania, between Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, between Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, between Albania and Moldova, between the US and Australia, and between Thailand and Australia.

The Council approved a request by Albania for a waiver on the staging period of its tariff reductions on certain products.

Regarding the agenda item on the post ATC (Agreement on Textiles and Clothing) adjustment-related issues, the Chairman reported that at the informal consultations held on 28 February 2005 the positions of Members had remained unchanged. Tunisia tabled a proposal in this area with reference to Part IV (“Trade and Development”) of the GATT 1994. Several Members expressed their readiness to comment and discuss the proposal at the next meeting of the Goods Council. One Member objected to considering the proposal in the context of the present item, while another suggested (with the support of some other Members) that the incoming Council Chairman hold informal consultations before the next meeting of the Council.

On the review of the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs), the Chairman said that his consultations indicated there still was no consensus on a request by Brazil and India for a joint WTO-UNCTAD study on the effects of TRIMs and their elimination. Brazil said it would continue to work for approval of this study.