The Chair, Amb. Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), said that in his informal consultations, delegations said that the transparency mechanism since its provisional establishment four years ago has performed reasonably well although there are some areas that would require some fine-tuning.
The transparency mechanism was established by the General Council on 14 December 2006 on a provisional basis.
The mechanism — negotiated in the Negotiating Group on Rules — provides for early announcement of any RTA and notification to the WTO. Members will consider the notified RTAs on the basis of a factual presentation by the WTO Secretariat.
The General Council decision provided that WTO members are to review, and if necessary modify, the decision, and replace it by a permanent mechanism adopted as part of the overall results of the Doha Round.
On “systemic issues” regarding RTAS, the Chair urged delegations to come forward with textual proposals as soon as possible.
Examples of these issues are: how to interpret the WTO requirement that RTAs cover “substantially all the trade”; regulations that could restrict trade such as rules of origin under preferential schemes; and how regional agreements relate to development.
The Chair said the Group will next meet on RTAs on 4 February 2011, with more subsequent meetings to be announced soon.