WTO: 2010 NEWS ITEMS

  

Brazil said that an inter-ministerial working group is finalizing implementation of the commitment made by Foreign Minister Celso Amorim at the WTO Ministerial Conference last year for duty-free, quota-free treatment for LDCs. It said that the preferential treatment will initially cover 80 per cent of the tariff lines by mid-year, and will be expanded to reach 100 per cent.

India said that it was the first developing country to offer duty-free, quota-free treatment to LDC exports in 2008. It said it is working to ensure that the scheme provide effective market access, noting that important LDC products are covered like cotton, cocoa, cane sugar and ready-made garments. It said that the scheme has become fully operational for 14 LDCs, and urged other LDCs to utilize this facility.

Bangladesh underlined the importance of the scheme for LDCs, and thanked Brazil and India for their update reports on their respective programmes.

Regional trade agreements

The Chair, Amb. Shree Baboo Chekitan Servansing, reported that two new regional trade agreements between developing countries had been recently notified to the Committee under the Enabling Clause. These are India's free trade agreements with Mercosur and with Afghanistan, respectively. He said that the Committee could consider these two agreements early next year.

He said that a previously-notified agreement, that between Chile and India, would be examined by the Committee this June.

Regarding notified agreements involving non-WTO members, the chair said that the WTO Secretariat is still waiting for the completion of ratification of the Pacific Islands Trade Agreement and the South Asian Free Trade Agreement, and for more data from the India-Bhutan Free Trade Agreement.

The chair also reported that the Gulf Cooperation Council notification of a customs union is the subject of informal consultations.

The chair reported good progress in informal consultations regarding a transparency mechanism for preferential trade arrangements proposed by Brazil, China, India and the United States.

India said that in the course of future consultations, it would take on board other concerns expressed by members.

Election of officers

The Committee elected Amb. Erwidodo (Indonesia) as its chair for 2010. He commended Amb. Servansing's leadership for the past three years, and pledged to maintain the high profile of the Committee in the WTO.

The Committee also elected Amb. Jean Feyder (Luxembourg) for another term as chair of the Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries.

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